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.”