Taxes, weekly rentals renew doubts over former transient New Plaza Motel

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Palm Bay Hotel claims to have stopped catering to weekly renters, and the owners aim to prove it in court with a lawsuit against the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s office.

Formerly the New Plaza Motel, the 34th Street North property was bought up by Sami Z. Anani and Waleed Z. Anani through their company SZWZ for $1.97 million in August and, after renovations, was reintroduced as the Palm Bay Hotel.

Sami Anani was an owner of St. Petersburg’s Coliseum Apartments in 2012, when a court ruled that he could no longer collect rent due to a $26,000 debt with Stearns Bank for taxes, insurance and interest payments for a mortgage.

The Palm Bay owners were notified by the tax collector’s office in October that the hotel would need to start collecting sales tax and a 6 percent tourist tax on room rentals, but the owners claimed their rooms are being leased by the year, making them exempt from both taxes.

Despite the disagreement, the company paid $820.43 in tourist development taxes to Pinellas County to settle the allegation before filing suit.

A handful of leases were included with the court filing, showing yearlong agreements, though there was no accounting of the status of the other rooms in the 65-unit complex.

The owners’ claim also runs counter to Craigslist posts listed as recently as Friday morning advertising rooms in the complex for with a promise of “WEEKLY RENTALS — NO DEPOSIT — NO LEASE — NO CREDIT CHECK,” for $195 a week.

A previous ad for the property touted new owners and rooms with “no long-term commitment,” as well as saying “we’re changing this beautiful area of St. Pete.”

 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.