Appellate court overturns $16.5M judgment for Richman Group

A trial court had ordered Pinellas County to pay the judgment for rejecting a development that Richman proposed

Rendering of Richman Group's proposed apartment complex in Safety Harbor
Rendering of Richman Group's proposed apartment complex in Safety Harbor


Rendering of Richman Group’s proposed apartment complex in Safety Harbor

Richman Group of Florida filed for a new hearing after an appellate court overturned a $16.5 million judgment in favor of the real estate development company.

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal ruled that Pinellas County does not have to pay the $16.5 million judgment to Richman Group for rejecting a real estate project the company proposed.

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The case centers on a 2013 decision by the Pinellas County Commission to reject Richman Group’s proposal to build a 246-unit apartment complex in Safety Harbor.

The project hinged on a proposed rezoning of the 35-acre development site, near State Road 590 and McMullen-Booth Road in Safety Harbor, to residential from industrial.

The Safety Harbor City Commission approved the rezoning proposal, but the Pinellas County Commission denied it in a unanimous vote.

Richman Group sued and won a $16.5 million judgment from Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Walter Schafer Jr., who ruled that the Pinellas County Commission rejected the rezoning proposal for non-policy reasons because many Safety Harbor residents opposed it.

Pinellas County appealed the circuit court’s $16.5 million judgment to the Second District Court of Appeal, which overturned the judgment, ruling that “the trial court erred in concluding the county had no rational basis” for its rejection of Richman Group’s rezoning proposal. [Tampa Bay Times] — Mike Seemuth

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