Pensacola city council members will vote Monday on whether to approve the sale of a city-owned parking lot located at 150 South Baylen Street in downtown Pensacola.
Studer Properties, the development company founded by Pensacola developer Quint Studer, has offered to purchase the 0.4-acre parcel for $510,000. The Baylen Street property is currently managed by the Downtown Improvement Board and provides 59 public parking spaces.
In recent months, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency has sought to sell off several surplus properties and return them to the tax rolls. In January, officials approved the $900,000 sale of a city-owned commercial building on South Palafox Street.
NAI Halford is the commercial real estate agency tasked by the city with marketing the CRA properties.
“This property really isn’t seeing its highest and best use as an asphalt parking lot,” said Dee Dee Davis, Executive Vice President of NAI Halford. “When we went to market for it, we were looking at what the market would offer for the property, which we believe is its appraised value.”
Davis said the purchase offer from Studer Properties is the only official offer recieved since they began marketing the property.
Mixed-use development envisioned for downtown block
If the sale is approved, the property could become part of a development project within the block, which is bounded by Palafox Street on the east. In a letter to the city, Andrew Rothfeder, president of Studer Properties, said he was approached by an ownership group representing 121 Sout Palafox, which is adjacent to the Baylen Street property.
The ownership group, led by Pensacola attorney Fred Vigodsky, is partnering with Studer Properties on the purchase and redevelopment of the block. The single-story Palafox building, which is currently home to BlabTV, and the Baylen Street property would likely be a key part of the redevelopment, according to Rothfeder.
“The owners of 121 are considering a significant redevelopment and expansion of their property, as they believe their current building is not the highest and best use for the location they have on Palafox,” Rothfeder said in the letter. “A development scenario which expands the building would require this additional land.”
The partnership group said they envision a mixed-use development for the property, which could include constructing a building on the Baylen Street property and a structured parking garage in between the Baylen Street property and Palafox building
Another redevelopment scenario, according to Rothfeder, could include demolition of the Palafox building, which was built in the late 19th century, and development of a multi-story mixed use building with residential condos or apartments, office space, and a parking garage.
If the sale is approved Monday by the CRA, the company said it would commit to upgrading the existing parking lot and installing landscaping in the short-term.
Studer not looking to “land-bank” property
This would be far from the first large land purchase for Studer and his development company. In 2015, he purchased the 19-acre property on Main Street across from the Community Maritime Park from the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority. At the time of the purchase, Studer said he would act fast to redevelop the site, promising to, “make this [the Main Street property] vibrant just as soon as possible.”
In 2016, Studer backtracked on his comments, telling a group of Pensacola realtors he is now land-banking the property, intending to flip the land to another buyer. Studer has yet to commit to any future plans with the property.
In the offer letter, Rothfeder said Studer Properties would be agreeable to ease concerns that the company was again seeking to land-bank another property, by offering a “buy-back” provision within the contract, where the city could buy back the property from the company if it fails to redevelop the site within a set date, recommended at 36 months.