LARGO -- The Gordian Knot has been cut in what seemingly was an impossible impasse and there is much rejoicing in Largo.
When word came that Boulder Venture and Pinch-A-Penny, two companies who want involvement in the "super block" at U.S. 19 and Roosevelt Boulevard, it meant that dreadful, knotty problem had been solved.
The two enterprises had been pronounced incompatible, mostly through the strong stand taken by Boulder Venture which said that the swimming pool supply company could not successfully exist next to its planned town center development on the site of what had been the Crossroads Mall.
Both companies have been working to resolve differences. Pinch-A-Penny is owned by the family of Fred Thomas, a well known local businessman who has a reputation as a good citizen and friend of the community.
The removal of his company would have meant the loss of several hundred jobs.
Boulder Venture's owner is Bob Schmidt, a Belleair Shore commissioner and successful national developer.
Two months ago, the Largo City Commission had the plans of the two developers laid before it and the two enterprises appeared to be in direct conflict, the protagonists in a classic dilemma.
At that meeting, Thomas and Schmidt outlined their individual plans -- one of them (Schmidt) asserting that its project was incompatible with the other; the second (Thomas) holding the idea that compatibility could be worked out.
The subject lands on the doorstep of the commission at August 2 meeting, the difference now being that it appears to be two developments of mutual teamwork instead of exclusive rivalry.
Thomas insisted all along there could be compatibility. Schmidt's project is mixed use bringing together in a town center shops, offices and residences.
Pinch-a-Penny deals in pool supplies and ancillary things that go with pools like inflatables, etc. As to the chemicals that Boulder Venture experts threw up as dangerous, Thomas pointed out that that portion of their business is re-packaging pool chemicals and that the danger was minimum.
Thomas and his people -- his son, John, is now the president of Pinch-a-Penny -- say that they must expand their business, that the families of 300 employees are at stake.
It was John Thomas, back in May who held out hope that some sort of accord could be worked out.
John Thomas pointed out that in more than 20 years at its present location, less than a half-mile from the Crossroads Mall site, there never had been a dangerous incident and that at present the company is adjacent to residential areas without complaint.
Boulder Venture, which bought the mall property in May, will have 1,200 jobs in its 700,000-plus square foot area. John Sabow of Boulder Venture said the value of the development is $140 million.
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