Tesla secures deal to redevelop Vacant Kane liquidation store in Lealman

LEALMAN, FL — First there was SpaceX, then Twitter. Now, business mogul Elon Musk will play a major role in revitalizing the underprivileged community of Lealman in Pinellas County.

The Tesla CEO plans to open a 102,410 square foot vehicle showroom and service center in the now vacant Kane’s Furniture liquidation store at 4601 34th St. N. (US 19).

Truett Realty Group, which is redeveloping the 4.2-acre property for Tesla, has received unanimous approval from Pinellas County to open the county’s first Tesla sales, service and delivery center. TRG closed on the property the last week of April.

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Tesla’s new facility will showcase the company’s all-electric vehicles, giving future Tesla owners a chance to test drive and buy new Teslas. Current Tesla owners can have their vehicles serviced and repaired on site.

As part of the redevelopment plans, the footprint of the current building will be reconfigured to accommodate a 52,000 square foot service and delivery operation. The remaining enclosed, air-conditioned space will be used to store approximately 170 vehicles.

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The enormous box building that dominates the corner of North 34th Street and North 46th Avenue has become an eyesore and a prime target for redevelopment as part of the area’s mission of Lealman’s Community Redevelopment Plan. 2,500 acres, bounded by the city of Pinellas Park to the north, Kenneth City to the west, and the city of St. Petersburg to the south and east.

The Lealman CRA, the first in unincorporated Pinellas County, aims to remedy the scourge of the area and improve the quality of life in the community.

The revitalization strategy for the community redevelopment area includes reinvestment in Lealman commercial and residential properties while capitalizing on the area’s environmental and recreational assets, including the Raymond H. Neri Community Park Master Plan, the Lealman Exchange adjacent 77,000 square foot Community Center and the Joe’s Creek Restoration Project, which includes a walking and biking trail that will connect to the Pinellas Trail.

The redevelopment projects are funded through Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which means that this investment will not only bring jobs to the area, but will also generate TIF dollars so that the redeveloped area can be reinvested once Tesla will have improved the property.

Tesla plans to employ about 50 new software and automotive technicians at the Lealman plant.

The Tesla facility is the type of reinvestment in the economically disadvantaged community that Pinellas County leaders envisioned when they approved the Lealman CRA redevelopment plan in 2016.

“The importance of this deal to Lealman cannot be understated,” Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice said. “Tesla recognizes what we said. Lealman is on the rise and ready for business.”

Truett Real Estate Group
The property is a prime target for redevelopment under the mission of the 2,500-acre Lealman Community Redevelopment Plan.

The redevelopment plan provides a comprehensive framework for long-term economic development and revitalization over the next 30 years and imposes strict requirements on new and redeveloped sites, requiring them to meet certain architectural standards, provide green space and provide sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly amenities. .

“We are excited to execute an adaptive reuse project that will transform a building originally developed as a distribution center into a state-of-the-art Tesla facility,” said TRG Director Rob Truett. “Our redevelopment projects are extremely rewarding as they provide a cost-effective way to enter markets with high barriers to entry while promoting a sustainable environment.”

He noted that county and ARC staff worked closely with TRG to obtain Board approval of adjustments and appeals to allow the sale of vehicles on the property, which otherwise were not permitted. due to its industrial zoning.

For Tesla, the location is ideal. The property is located just south of the five Crown new car dealerships on US 19, giving Tesla an opportunity to attract people who are already shopping for cars.

Jordan Simler, senior vice president and commercial banking team leader for Valley Bank, said the bank is eager to fund the project, which prioritizes funding projects that support communities with below-average incomes. county average.

Simler said Valley Bank has a long-standing relationship with Truett and his partner, JBL Asset Management’s Jacob Khotoveli, including funding three other US Tesla SSDs and crash centers.

“Our strong history with Rob and Jacob was a major driver in funding this project,” he said. “We particularly appreciate its focus on redevelopment projects that spur economic and beautification efforts in underserved communities. This is the second ARC-listed Tesla Center we’ve funded.”

Kane’s Furniture plans to keep its nearby showroom open at 4501 34th St. N., and Kane CEO Irwin Novack said the company is looking forward to Tesla’s arrival.

“We welcome Tesla to the neighborhood and are confident they will be great corporate citizens and a great asset to Pinellas County,” Novack said.

TRG plans to begin construction this summer and open in 2023 or 2024. This project marks Tesla’s fourth redevelopment project since 2021.