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Vacant Edward White Hospital sues state, county over $118K property tax bill

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg operated from 1976 until it was bought by hospital giant HCA, which closed the facility in late 2014.

However, in 2015 the Pinellas County tax collector issued the hospital with a property tax bill of $118,657 for the now vacant building.

Edward White Hospital Inc., an entity of HCA, is suing the executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue, Leon M. Biegalski, as well as tax collector, Diane Nelson and property appraiser Pam Dubrov.

The plaintiff argues the tax bill was based on the appraised value of $5.4 million asserting this value is too high for a non-income producing property that has remained vacant since its 2014 closure.

The assessed value of the property was $5.5 million and $5.3 million in 2014 and 2013 respectively.

According to 2012 financial documents submitted to the state, Edward White ran a $5.5 million operating deficit, on top of a nearly $1.1 million shortfall the year before. It had 162 beds but with overnight stays declining across the country, the hospital and its crumbling 130,000 square foot building were no longer financially viable.

Interestingly, the property was sold for $2 million in November 2015, along with eight other parcels to Helvetica Sight Kenwood 25 LLC. Sight Real Estate, as it is also known, specializes in urban infill developments.

According to notes from a February 2016 St. Petersburg Community Planning & Preservation Commissions hearing, the new owners sought to alter the properties land use designation from that of a hospital to allow either a skilled nursing facility, an assisted living facility or a multifamily dwelling project. With a view of Booker Creek Park, downtown St. Pete and Tropicana Field, a rooftop terrace has also been discussed.

Michael Mincberg, president of Sight Real Estate in a December 2014 article by the Tampa Bay Business Journal was quoted, as saying a zoning discrepancy between the city and county records was “just a formality,” that would be cleared up within six months.

FloridaPolitics.com spoke with Mincberg on Tuesday, who informed us “we have had an offer to purchase from another development group and are under contract to sell it right now.”

Mincberg also said he had no idea as to the situation regarding the suit filed by HCA and declined to disclose the name of the potential new owners but did say “I think they know something we don’t, which is why they want to buy it.”

No one from HCA could be reached for comment.

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