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Last-minute legal shuffling torpedoes Tarpon Springs land deal

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County agreed last year to sell several parcels of land in Tarpon Springs to a group called the Tarpon Land Trust.

The patch of land is just west of the 64-unit Mango Circle Apartments, managed by the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority.

The deal, worth $150,000, was to include an additional parcel (Lot 16, Block C) to be first obtained by Habitat, and then added with the original parcel before closing the deal.

The bundle would then be sold to the Tarpon Land Trust.

Shortly before the deal was to close, however, Habitat notified Larry Crow, the Clearwater-based attorney who serves as Tarpon Land Trust trustee, that the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority was unwilling to sell the additional parcel.

Habitat recommended the deal proceeds without the other parcel or be voided.

Neither Tarpon Land Trust nor Crow liked the idea, filing suit against Habitat for breach of contract claiming that the deal cannot be closed without the additional parcel. They seek damages for “wasted expenditures” and “lost profits.”

Although it is unclear why the housing authority was unwilling to sell the land, a 2013 Tampa Bay Times report said the Mango Circle complex, built in the 70s, is dilapidated and in serious need of repair and investment.

While little is known about the Tarpon Land Trust, they are assumed to be a developer. Better known is the trusts’ attorney and trustee, Larry Crow.

Crow, 56, is a former state representative who served between 1994 through 2002. During that time, he championed a range of causes, including leading a drive to rid playgrounds of arsenic-treated wood. In 2002, Crow received the Legislator of the year award from the Sierra Club.

However, Crow has also faced his share of criticism. Over the years, the Palm Harbor Republican represented high profile clients connected to gambling, as well as helping establish a voyeur website focused on watching women in a Tarpon Springs home in 2001.

According to Crow’s website he is “a real estate lawyer specializing in all types of land transfers and problems, including foreclosures, evictions, quiet title actions and work out solutions of sales and purchases of real estate.” He is designated an expert in real estate law under the Florida Bar Certification program.

As of press time, neither Crow nor anyone from Habitat was available for comment.

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