Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on May 20, 2000 · 24
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 24

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, May 20, 2000
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6B TIMES SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2000 Renewal from 1 B people that Ybor would have had living there won't be there for a while," said James Moore, a University of South Florida architecture professor who studies urban redevelopment issues. "Other developers were watching to see how (the Park's developer) did, and now they'll be waiting longer, too." With interest rates rising, it will get tougher for other developers to get such projects going, Moore said. In the meantime, Ybor City's current residents, shopkeepers and visitors will have to endure yet another year of construction-related noise and street traffic. They'll also have to cope with the parking crunch. When Camden Development Inc. bought the 8-acre tract for the Park at Ybor City from the city of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College for $5-million in 1998, the Houston, Texas-based real estate firm eliminated more than 1,(XX) parking spaces located on the site. Business for bars, restaurants and retailers also will be hurt. Many were looking forward to the added customer traffic from the new complex, where rents for one- and two-bedroom apartments were expected to average about $1,000 a month. The first units were scheduled to be completed this summer. Camden Development is one of the bay area's largest apartment owners and managers. The firm owns and manages 13 apartment buildings with more I than 6,400 units in Hillsborough j and Pinellas counties. These in- ! elude the 832-unit Lookout I Pointe and the 770-unit Live i Oaks in Tampa, and the 688-unit I Mallard Pointe in St. Peters- ! burg. Camden executives did not return phone calls for comment Friday, but Tampa Mayor Dick Greco said company officials had promised to rebuild. The firm's publicly traded affiliate, Camden Property Trust, reported revenues of $371-mil-lion and net income of $62-mil-lion in 1999. At the market's close Friday, Camden Property's stock was unchanged at $28.31. In its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Camden Property said none of its projects accounted for more than 2.8 percent of the company's total revenues. In other words, Friday's fire at the Park is unlikely to cause more than a small dent in its developer's financials. Nevertheless, planning and building the Park has been a huge task. Since floating its winning bid for the site, Camden Development and its subcontractors have applied for 156 permits, according to city records. Drawings produced by the companies number in the dozens. Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh helped finance the project. Camden chose to frame the building with wood, which was to be covered with stucco and brick. Floor joists, roof trusses and all of the exterior plywood sheathing on the three-story buildings were made of wood or glued-wood pieces. Upon completion, the 800,000-square-foot project would have had sprinklers in every room and fire walls between apartments. "It's based on economics," architect Dobbins said of the wood construction. "I mean, there are budgets, and the developer has to make these projects work financially. We were in compliance with the fire codes and everything." Dobbins predicted the project will be rebuilt the same way it was originally erected. To do otherwise might require new permits and would delay the project further. Besides, he said, wood-frame structures are very safe once completed. Staff writer Leanora Minai contributed to this report Melone fromlB perfect conductor of electricity. The fire began to climb up the framework of the apartments. The men moved as if in a dance. The heat became so intense, Tatum said, "I couldn't stand in one place." He got back into the truck and backed it away from the blaze. The men aimed their biggest gun a device called a main stream, mounted on the truck like an automatic weapon on the rising flames. It unloaded 1,000 gallons of water a minute. But they might as well have been trying to fill the ocean. "We just watched as the place went," Tatum said. Even for him, with 19 years on the fire line, "It was awesome." He backed up the truck again. Some lights on Engine No. 6 melted. Much longer, and the paint job would have begun to peel. The windshield would have cracked. By then, Tatum later figured, two minutes had gone by. He moved Engine No. 6 across the street into a parking lot of a lovingly restored cigar factory that houses the Ybor City Brewing Company. Saving it became the priority of Engine No. 6. They ran a hose into the attic in case the roof caught fire, the very thing that later happened to the post office. And, recalled Tatum, "We aimed the nozzle at the front of the building to cool it off." He has a freckled face that belongs on a recruiting poster. He talked without boasting. Around him, other men were quietly breaking down the line that had been run up the outside stairs of the brewery and into the brewery attic. Behind him were two blocks of blackened, smashed wood. Two silhouettes, one all curves, the other a network of straight lines, rose from the smoking piles. They were the remains of a tree and a parking garage. Nearby was the post office, with a hole in the middle. In front of it, the round lamps of Ybor's famous four-bulb iron street lights hung in grotesque shapes made as they melted in the heat. I walked over to where Tatum had met his enemy. The utility pole that had held up the snapped wire smoldered like a cigar stub. Next to that, in domino fashion, lay the burned trunk of the first palm to burn. Next to that stood what was left of the forklift that had pulled down the power line. This was ground zero. When we looked up at the top of the forklift, we saw the scorch mark where the huge metal arm of the machine had met the wire, where the sparks first jumped, where the flames first rose and where Richard Ta-tum's courage kicked into action. Jurors' doubts about DIM result in mistrial By GRAHAM BRINK Tirrwa Staff Writor TAMPA A jury deadlocked on the validity of DNA evidence in the case of a man accused of beating a woman to death 1 1 years ago, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. Upon hearing the decision Friday, Franklin A. Smith put his head in his hands. He hadn't lost, which could have sent him to death row. But he also wasn't acquitted, which would have meant a trip home with his family. The 53-year-old mouthed "I love you" to his wife after the decision. Bailiffs then led him out and back to jail, where he will await a new trial in a few weeks. "No one likes a mistrial," said one of his attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Gerod Hooper. Less than two hours after beginning their deliberations, the jurors sent out a note to the judge. "The difference between the jurors centers on the degree of trust to put in the DNA evidence," the foreman wrote. "There are not discrepancies as to the evidence presented, but rather the absolute validity in this evidence. Many of us on both sides have decided that there is no additional discussion that will change our minds." The judge read legal instructions telling the jurors how to try again and sent them back to the jury room. Two hours later, they sent out another note. Still hopelessly deadlocked, they said, with both sides "extremely resolute." Circuit Judge Cynthia Hollo-way told the lawyers that she had not seen jurors write a more con cise representation of their positions. She then declared a mistrial . Eileen Mangold, 50, was working the evening of Sept 19, 1989, as a cashier at the now-defunct Kangaroo Fuel Stop on U.S. 301. Witnesses saw a man force her into her station wagon and then drive off with her in the passenger seat, according to sheriff s reports. Her car was discovered five hours later at Krycul Avenue in Riverview. Her body was found eight hours later. Investigators found fingerprints on the car but could not link them to anyone. Last year, a fingerprint expert ran some of the prints again and came up with a hit. A partial print taken from the hood of the car matched Smith, who had been arrested and fingerprinted in unrelated cases before the killing. Investigators questioned Smith, who told them he never knew Mangold and never had sex with her. When asked, he provided a blood sample. Authorities arrested Smith in December after DNA tests came back as a match to the semen found on the blouse. ; Smith's attorneys attacked the DNA findings, disputing the trillion-to-one odds that the semen belonged only to Smith and the way investigators labeled and nan died the samples. Juror Ernest Street, who did not want to say which way he voted, said some of the jurors had problems with the way the evidence was gathered, including missing labels on the blood samples. The tiny amount of DNA recovered from the blouse also was a problem for some, he said. Senators fromlB political leaders, and specifically suggested Mack and Graham. Herbert would not comment Friday on what he considers a private conversation. University system spokesman Keith Gold-schmidt said the search will continue as planned. The next step is a June 15 conference call to determine-whether interim UF President Charles Young, the retired chancellor of the University of California at Los Angeles, will be able to remain at the helm while a new effort is launched. There is nothing to stop the regents from rewriting the qualifications, even at this late date. But a number of officials said such a move would send the wrong signal about UF's intentions. They noted that several of the candidates who withdrew their names from consideration said they were troubled by the state legislature's decision to overhaul Florida's system of higher education governance. The plan includes eliminating the regents and replacing them with boards of trustees at each university. Introducing more politics into the process will only make matters worse, said former university system Chancellor E.T. York, who has been assisting with UF's search. "At this stage in the university's development we need a prominent educator, not someone who has had a career in public service," said York, who said he is friends with both Mack and Graham and holds their abilities in high esteem. If the criteria change, he said, "the reaction will be very negative, both among the faculty and higher education leaders nationally." UF faculty members already have made it clear that they expect a top-notch academic to succeed former President John Lombardi, who resigned Nov. 1. Almost 300 professors recently signed a resolution that declared all the semifinalists unqualified. Five of the semifinalists are presidents at respected universities. The other is a provost, as was Lombardi when he came to UF. "We don't object to a discus sion about changing the criteria, as long as everyone has a seat at the table," said Joseph Layon, the chairman of UF's Faculty Senate. "What we won't do is roll over and play dead. Not for anyone." Skateboard fromlB 16th Street. Violators get a $30 ticket. City leaders created the rule after skateboarders were accused of damaging property, including gouging Italian marble planters at what was then Barnett Tower. When the X Trials came two years ago, the St. Petersburg City Council debated but agreed to temporarily relax the no-skateboarding rule to be hospitable. The result: Some business owners at the east end of downtown near Spa Beach reported that hundreds of local skateboarders left behind cracked tiles, chipped cement and scraped handrails. At least two office buildings City Center at 100 Second Ave. S and Plaza Towers at 111 Second Ave. NE reported thousands of dollars in damage. This time, the City Council didn't relax the rule. This weekend in St. Petersburg X Trials, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today and Sunday, The Pier and Spa Beach. Spring Boat Show, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today and 1 0 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Bayfront Center and Yacht Basin. Conference USA Baseball Championships, 9 a.m. to as late as 10:30 p.m. today, Florida Power Park. Parking for the events is available at the Bayfront Center, the garage at 101 First Ave. S, in private lots downtown and along city streets. "All the business owners don't want their property damaged," said police spokesman Dan Bates. 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