ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Having been given a conditional approval, it appears Tesla Motors is in the early stages of building a sales showroom and delivery facility in Pinellas County, in the Lealman Community Redevelopment Area.
Should the plans for construction move forward, Tesla will purchase what was formerly a Kane’s Furniture liquidation center on 34th Street North in Lealman. According to county property records, the location is worth $2,335,000, and covers 102,410 square feet.
According to records from the Pinellas County Board of Adjustment and Appeals, approval for early development steps was conditionally approved at a meeting on April 6. The application for the purchase was put forward by Truett Realty Group, LLC, a real estate company based in Delray Beach. According to the meeting notes, the application was for a Type 2 Use motor vehicle sales facility in Lealman.
The letter of intent for the proposal said Tesla would use the building for sale, storage and some repair functions for their customers.
“Tesla Motors seeks to occupy 4601 34th Street North… as a Sales, Service and Delivery Center with interior vehicular storage,” the letter reads. “This location will operate as a traditional automotive dealership model where customers can be come familiar with different vehicle models, test drive cars, purchase and/or lease vehicles, take possession of vehicles purchased either in store or online and have their vehicles serviced, repaired and/or have routine maintenance performed.”
Roughly 40,000 feet of the building’s space will be used for providing services and performing repairs and maintenance if the project moves forward. The letter of intent also says the location would provide both new and pre-owned vehicles.
Application details recorded on the county records site say the “existing footprint of the building structure will remain unchanged, so all existing separation, screening, buffer area, etc. will remain intact,” as will “the existing drives, walkways and parking.” However, modifications to lighting and curb stops will be made to create “safer driving conditions.”
According to the application, the property is expected to host hundreds of visitors a week using about half of the building, with the other half intended to be used for vehicle storage.
Due to the early stage of the process, it is not yet known if the project will proceed. Should Tesla move forward, and receive the necessary approvals, it would replace the former Kane’s liquidation center. Kane’s has been an active business in Florida since 1948, and opened its first store in St. Petersburg that year. There are currently 18 Kane’s locations in Florida.
Lealman is a census-designated place in Pinellas County and established its CRA in 2015, the first in an unincorporated part of the county, according to officials.
It is now a location intended for “comprehensive framework for long-term development, economic development, and redevelopment revitalization strategies to address blighted conditions and improve the overall quality of life in the Lealman” through the CRA Redevelopment Plan approved in 2016.
Following the plan’s adoption, the Lealman Redevelopment Trust Fund and Tax Increment Financing District was established by ordinance, which froze the tax base. Doing so established a “base valuation of the property” in the CRA boundaries, allowing future tax assessments on property values to be used to fund the redevelopment plan.
A committee was formed of appointed members in 2015. They work with the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners for managing redevelopment activities in Lealman.
Christopher Moore, assistant to the County Administrator in Pinellas, said the Lealman location for the potential Tesla dealership was one of just three locations being considered for the company’s footprint in Florida.
The full application for development is expected to be reviewed by the Board of County Commissioners in the near future. The next BOCC meeting is scheduled for April 21.