Complex may get new lease on life
Built in the mid-1960s, Georgetown was, for decades, a thriving, popular apartment complex.
The 2005 sale of the 164-acre property to a South Florida developer planning an exclusive waterfront community on the site, however, led to eviction of the tenants of all 624 units.
The Halloween 2007 deadline to vacate was perhaps prophetic; today the sprawling complex is a ghost town.
A plan to raze the apartments to make way for a mixed-use development of condominiums, town houses and single-family homes was abandoned. The property is under foreclosure, another victim of the slumping real estate market.
Today plywood covers windows in some of the red-brick buildings. Large sections of the low, winding decorative wall of matching red brick have been knocked down, apparently targeted by vandals. A padlocked chain blocks the main entry to the empty streets of the complex along South West Shore Boulevard, a quarter-mile north of Gandy Boulevard.
Despite the reputation of abandoned housing posing an attractive nuisance, Tampa police records for the complex address (4801 W. Fair Oaks Ave.) show only a single incident since the closing: an aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in April 2008.
Georgetown was built by Ralph Kaul, a Utah native whose earlier large-scale projects included developing Page, Ariz., a town created from scratch for the federal government as a staging area for construction of the Glen Canyon Dam.
In Tampa, Kaul also built Colonial Village Apartments, near Gandy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway.
In 1964, Kaul's Virginia-based construction company began dredging canals and filling 164 acres of swampy land for Georgetown.
The two-story apartments were designed to provide working-class tenants with a taste of coastal Florida living, complete with a marina, two swimming pools and lots of palm trees.
Kaul had Georgetown's water and electric services on central meters, and monthly rent payments included those utilities at no additional charge.
The apartments were large and economically priced. Tenants forced out in October 2007 were paying $565 monthly for a two-bedroom apartment, with water and electricity still included. One couple displaced from their two-bedroom Georgetown unit reported their new rent for a one-bedroom South Pointe Apartment on South Himes Avenue was $855, plus utilities.
Kaul married Georgetown's first manager, Virginia Holcomb, after his first wife died. The couple lived at Georgetown from the late 1970s until his death in 2002.
As the pricey property has sat empty, a joint effort has been under way to find an appropriate use for the site.
On Tuesday night, representatives of Hillsborough County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, commonly called ELAPP, planned to discuss the future of the foreclosed property.
The agency's Site Selection Committee called the meeting to hear public comments on prioritizing acquisition of a portion of the Georgetown site for a waterfront park. The property, which the Motta Group of Fort Lauderdale bought for $125 million in 2005, now is owned by the mortgage holder, Bank of America, which has placed it on the market.
Early this year, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio asked the Trust for Public Land to put together a proposal to buy the acreage, possibly a joint acquisition in cooperation with ELAPP. The San Francisco-based nonprofit group boasts of a successful record of helping communities nationwide save strategic lands for public use.
"We're still talking it out," said Tim Ahern, media relations director at Trust for Public Land.
Back to Tampa Tribune Page. . .
Back to Home Page. . .