|Published:||Aug 13, 2012 9:42 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Aug 13, 2012 10:49 AM EDT|
PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- Built in 1995 at a cost of $9 million, the 55,000-square-foot property in downtown Punta Gorda, formerly known as Impac University, has been sitting vacant for almost five years. The property occupies an entire city block of waterfront property on Marion Avenue in Punta Gorda and features parquet floors and marble sinks. Tom Patton with the Charlotte County Office of Economic Development wants to turn the property into a business incubator.
"It's a place where we bring our entrepreneurial support network of our community together to help fledgling new businesses get off the ground," says Patton.
But here's the hitch: Patton is recommending the county buy the property with $2.5 million of tax payer money. Charlotte County commissioner Bob Starr is not sold on the idea yet.
"Would we be better off looking for something a little less austere a little less grandiose", said Starr.
He is worried that the property is too opulent for a government project and may serve a better purpose in the private sector.
"I don't want to see it taken off the tax roles and become county owned property without being very very sure that there is going to be a significant return on investment", said Starr.
Pattons says the return on investment comes in the form of jobs and new tax paying businesses in the community. He also says the luxury of the facility will attract higher end businesses.
"Do I want to give them a garage? Or do I want to give them an opulent building? I want to give them a place where they want to go", said Patton.
The Economic Development board will bring the idea in front of the County Commission this week.
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