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Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Temple Terrace to make pitch to save downtown redevelopment district

TEMPLE TERRACE — A team of city leaders is planning to make a new proposal to the developer of the downtown redevelopment district to get the project back on track.

Mayor Frank Chillura, City Manager Jerry Seeber and City Attorney Mark Connolly, who are members of a committee negotiating with the Vlass group on the city’s behalf, said they were planning to make a recommendation to the developer to kick start the project, which has been at a standstill since March 2012.

Though they declined to provide specific details, they said it would include proposals both sides have generally agreed to in the past.

“Our goal is to focus on those issues in general to see if there is mutual acceptance,” Chillura said.

The committee will submit proposals that the City Council would likely support, the mayor said.

City officials and representatives of the Vlass group have met in private twice since June to work through their differences in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit. The last meeting was on July 24.

“We are trying to make a last-ditch effort to move this project forward,” Chillura said. “We are going to try to move something forward that is viable. We hope the developer feels the same way.”

Both sides have been working to resolve their differences but compromise will be required by both parties, Seeber said.

City leaders and the developer of the $150 million town center project have had trouble seeing eye-to-eye since early 2012 when Vlass proposed building an apartment complex instead of condominiums on the site.

Some residents and council members have said an apartment complex was not part of the city’s dream to create a pedestrian-friendly, “new urbanism”-style town center.

The disagreement came to a head in April when Vlass’ attorney, David Smith, suggested it might be time for the parties to part ways because of their inability to reconcile differences.

City Council members said they appreciate the negotiating team’s efforts to reach a compromise.

Councilman David Pogorilich encouraged the committee members to take their time to create a good proposal.

“Let’s take some extra time and get it right the first time,” Pogorilich said.

The mayor agreed.

“The ultimate goal is to have a viable development that suits the vision of our people,” Chillura said. “I want to make sure we leave no rock unturned.”

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