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Prime property changes hands

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A Pennsylvania company has bought five properties near Clearwater Beach and says development plans are still being worked out. By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published January 8, 2006 CLEARWATER – A Pennsylvania company is buying up properties along the new route to Clearwater Beach, but the owners are being coy about their plans for the land. DiCicco Development has amassed 1.68 acres bordering Court and Chestnut streets between Myrtle and Fort Harrison avenues. Since July, the company has purchased five pieces of property in the area, including the former Clearwater Train Station, which was owned by ex-city commissioner and Pinch-A-Penny pool supply founder Fred Thomas. Sam DiCicco Jr., a principal with the western Pennsylvania builder, said he is not yet sure how the land will be developed. Just last March, Thomas won the right to build a gas station and convenience store on four pieces of the land, including a former Pinch-A-Penny store and the former rail station. City planners first rejected Thomas’ plans for the gas station, saying it did not meet downtown zoning regulations. But their ruling was overturned by a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge. Rather than build, Thomas sold the land to DiCicco – $1.8-million for 0.95 acres. The other property is across Chestnut Street, the 0.73-acre former Pelican Bay Ltd. warehouse. That property sold for $865,000. “It’s too early for me to disclose anything,” DiCicco said from his company’s office in Moon Township, Pa. He did say, however, that a gas station “is not at the top of our list.” Developers have met with city officials and a local development lawyer, both city officials and the lawyer, Ed Armstrong of Clearwater, have said. City Economic Development Director Geri Campos said DiCicco seems to be mulling over several options. “I don’t think they have something specific in mind,” Campos said. “I think they see an opportunity. They’ve talked about a whole range of possibilities, but I don’t think they’ve made any decisions.” According to city codes, DiCicco could build a total of 159 hotel rooms or 117 condominiums on the properties. He could even add more units for contributing certain amenities like upgraded streetscaping to Clearwater’s downtown, said Gina Clayton, assistant planning department director. DiCicco has primarily built office buildings in Pennsylvania, according to newspaper reports from that state. In Florida, he has also purchased property in Madeira Beach. His father and business partner, Sam DiCicco Sr., owns a house on St. Pete Beach, property records show. The land in Clearwater has been vacant most recently. A thrift store left what used to be the Pinch-A-Penny site and a memorial park that Thomas created had been torn down. “I know absolutely nothing about who purchased the property or their intentions with the property,” Thomas said in a message left with a reporter Friday. Clearwater police recently used the vacant storefront to house presents for their Christmas program. Another business will temporarily lease the storefront while developers continue to form a plan, DiCicco Jr. said. Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 727 445-4160 or Source:
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