Home / Business / City officials enter negotiations for BayCare office park

City officials enter negotiations for BayCare office park

An office building similar to this one on Drew Street in Clearwater could be built on the Firmenich property in Safety Harbor.
A BayCare office complex similar to this one on Drew Street in Clearwater could be built on the Firmenich property in Safety Harbor, thanks to a recent agreement with the city.

The Safety Harbor City Commission agreed to allow city officials to negotiate a development agreement with BayCare Health Systems, a move that could see a massive office park constructed on part of the abandoned Firmenich property.

A recently submitted site plan calls for a maximum 120,000-square-foot office complex to be built on 16.2 acres of the 33-acre parcel, located on 10th Street South and McMullen Booth Road.

The deal was first discussed in July, and it became a possibility after the commission approved a text amendment to the city’s land development code in October.

In quickly approving the agenda item on November 2, the commission asked for assurances from repre-sentatives of BayCare that protecting the property’s boundaries with adjoining neighborhoods would be taken into consideration when developing the land.

A screenshot of the site plan BayCare presented for development of part of the Firmenich property.
A screenshot of the site plan BayCare presented for development of part of the Firmenich property.

“I’m a big supporter of this project,” Vice-Mayor Andy Zodrow said. “But I would like to see staff talk to the applicant about having buffers on the eastern side of the property, near Harbor Hills, and the wetland areas.”

“I don’t want this to stop the entire project, but I would like to staff talk to the applicant about that during the negotiations.”

BayCare attorney Ed Armstrong informed the commission that the health care giant most likely would not be developing that section of the property, a point that Mayor Andy Steingold agreed with.

But Steingold also urged the company to consider future residential development of the property.

“My concern would be mainly going up the east side of the property,” the mayor said. “I think it’s a good project, but I just want to make sure as we begin to negotiate this that I want to feel comfortable with that buffer.”

“Mayor Steingold is correct in his assumption that BayCare is highly confident it will not be the ultimate developer of that property,” Armstrong said. “And you have very appropriate and restrictive ordinances in place that will govern the ultimate development of that residential parcel.”

The Firmeich property.
The Firmeich property.

“But the greatest likelihood it will be done at a much later date by an entirely different party, and it’s very awkward for us to anticipate what it will look like.”

The commission ultimately voted, 4-0, in approval of the item; Commissioner Cliff Merz, who voted against the text amendment originally, was absent from the meeting.

City manager Matt Spoor will next review the specifics of the proposal, such as building height, square footage, setbacks and signage.

If approved, future steps will include further negotiations with City officials before bringing the proposal to the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission.

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  1. I live directly on SR590, right around the curve from this property and have been here since 1994 and prior to this, I lived off of 9th at 5 ave south since 1986, and I never had a problem with traffic while Firmenich was there. People have made jokes about all the big semi’s that could come in if we left this industrial…and little did they know, we have already been through the business traffic with lots of semis. No big deal… Here is the reason! While the residents of Safety Harbor are leaving town to go to work, employees at that property are coming in to work. Then in the afternoon, when I am coming home and into Safety Harbor, the employees will be heading out! Baycare will be an office building, so therefore probably have office hours. They will be driving in the opposite direction of most residents going to work. They have also designed an entrance/exit onto McMullen Booth instead of putting all of that traffic on a single lane of SR590. They have ALSO designed their entrance on SR590 to be about the furthest away from the intersection as possible. The apartment complex plan was to dump ALL traffic onto SR590, no McMullen exit/entrance, AND this traffic would be going the same way as most residents who leave town to work…leaving in the morning and coming home in the afternoon…complete overload!
    I fought hard against the apartments specifically because of traffic. They refused to build an entrance/exit onto McMullen and refused to bring down the count of apartments to a reasonable number.
    With a professional employer on this site, this should bring in more business for our restaurants and bars and stores. It should also bring employees that might have thoughts of moving to our area as this office building is moving to us from Tampa! This is a good fit for my back yard and my daily travels…and in my opinion, a good fit for the city.
    If you have a different opinion, that’s great! We are allowed to have different opinions… so Mr. Barge and friends, please don’t bully me into thinking your way! Please don’t call me names for voicing my opinion! If you would like to have a civil discussion I am all for it!

  2. As a homeowner in Safety Harbor, I am a bit disturbed and frustrated with the decisions that our Mayor and Commissioners made in regards to the Firmenich Property.

    1) Workers in an office complex arrive and leave at the same times each day causing traffic congestion and frustration. Did any of our Commissioners and Mayor think of that when the decision was made? I thought there were previous concerns with building houses, condos or an apartment complex on the property and traffic congestion. Individuals living in these types of arrangements would be leaving at all different times throughout the day and night. Workers in an office complex arrive and leave each day at pretty much the same times. This is an office complex, not a hospital where there are different shifts.

    2) Will the city be receiving any property taxes from BayCare for this property? If not, again this was a very poor decision. We cannot continue to expect homeowner taxpayers to take money out of their pockets when a big company like BayCare does not provide any $’s to our community. Another poor decision.

    Homeowners of Safety Harbor: Please remember these poor decisions that were made by our mayor and commissioners when their term limit ends and there are new elections. We cannot continue to make poor long-term decisions for our community which affect homeowners who pay taxes. We need to do what is good for our community and it does not appear that most of these officials or City Manager, Matt Spoor have the right decisions in mind. Carlos Diaz is the only one who has the right mind on these and other issues.

  3. I hope that they make some provisions for the increased traffic this will generate . McMullen and590 will be a mess for Usresidents

  4. I’ve said this before and it needs to be repeated: yet another bone headed move by our city commissioners. Baycare is a non profit and as such does not pay property taxes. From what I recall, the high-end apartment complex would have created $1 million in upfront taxes (impact fees) and $500,000 in annual property taxes. This project will generate $0 in annual property taxes. Zero. At a time when the City wants to spend money on community-enhancing but costly projects such as expanding the library, Community (rec) Center, waterfront park and more, this will ensure that residents bear these costs via a higher tax burden, when the tax base could have been expanded. To put numbers around this: I own a tiny 1,200 square foot rental home in town and pay $6,000 in annual proprty taxes on this one property. Baycare will build 120,000 squate feet of commercial office space and pay $0. Residents, middle class home owners, will bear tax burdens on their back. So disappointed in this commission and I hope residents are smart enough to vote these commissioners out.

    • Jim,

      Correct! To the homeowners who bitterly complained about the proposed apartment complex generating a lot of traffic, be careful what you wish for. BayCare at rush hour won’t be any better and is likely to create a far worse traffic situation.

      Loss of $1 million PLUS annual property tax revenue for Safety Harbor is a shame. Amd I LOVE all the comments expressed by the Commissioners about concerns of development too close to Harbor Hills. The apartment complex developer redesigned its project with 50% green space and verifiable space between the mixed use buildings and the adjacent neighborhood.

      Sorry, Commissioners, you goofed on this important decision.

  5. Would have been better off residential for the whole thing. Office is proven to cause more peak traffic since workers are leaving and arriving at peak times. Residential gets people off the road.

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