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County Ponders Free Rent for 3 Businesses Hurt by RNC

The businesses were forced to close down during the Republican National Convention in August.

August’s Republican National Convention in downtown Tampa was a mixed bag of good and bad news for businesses in the county.

Some businesses that thought they’d see a surge in business didn’t realize the profits they’d hoped for. Others reported doing very well as hundreds of Republicans converged on Tampa Bay. But a few businesses had to shut down entirely, forgoing all hope of realizing profit during the event.

Three of the businesses that faced the latter circumstances will be brought up during Thursday’s Hillsborough County Commission meeting. Commissioners are being asked to give the three businesses that operate out of the first floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., a month of free rent in December to make up for the losses incurred in August.

Sobiks deli, a sundry shop and Florida West Coast Credit Union would all benefit from the request if commissioners agree to it. The loss in rental revenue to the county comes in at $5,040.41, according to county documents.

The proposal isn’t an early Christmas gift or largess on the part of the county, officials say.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” explained Peggy Hamric Smith, interim director of the county’s real estate services department. “We’re being good landlords.”

Since the county closed the Kennedy Boulevard building before and during the convention, the businesses it rents to suffered through no fault of their own, she said.

The agenda item for the Nov. 15 meetings explains that workers from the building began to be relocated to other offices in early August. “The building became progressively more vacant, which significantly reduced the customer base for the first-floor businesses.”

RNC preparations led to a complete closure of County Center the week before the convention and during the Aug. 27-30 event.

The item is part of the Nov. 15 consent agenda. If approved, the businesses would get a pass on one month’s rent, but no formal compensation.

Do you think this is the right thing to do? Is it worth the loss in county revenue or should the proposal be denied? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Amy Rogers November 15, 2012 at 06:19 PM
It's the right thing to do!

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