By: Michael Paluska
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — For a cool $17.2 million, developer Ben Mallah purchased a large chunk of John’s Pass Village that includes Hooters, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and the Friendly Fisherman.
John’s Pass Village is one of Florida’s most iconic beach communities. On any given day, you can watch dolphins and manatees swimming in the pass just feet from the boardwalk.
“It’s been in a slump since the 2008 crash,” Mallah said. “We are going to come in here we are gonna give this place a bunch of TLC. We are gonna make repairs, clean it up, get some paint on it fill up a lot of the empty space that is here bring in some more attractions.”
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Mallah said before buying the property, he spent a lot of time talking to business owners and getting their input on what could be done to revitalize the area.
“It’s doing great and most of it is doing great right now. I toured every inch of this place you know all the parts that we didn’t buy,” Mallah said. “It’s got a great buzz. It is thriving you can do anything you want here, go out fishing.”
Traffic during the busy season gets jammed in the parking garage, that the Mallah now owns as well. He is working on a plan to update the parking garage and get customers in and out faster. Mallah also plans to restore the marina area where people go out for deep sea fishing tours, parasailing, or dolphin encounters.
“We are going to be helping get this place fixed up, and we want anyone here to stay, and we want their business to thrive,” Mallah said.
The section now owned by Mallah has a lot of space for retailers to move in. But, current tenants that met with Mallah are looking forward to the upgrades.
“I’m excited he’s obviously a real estate mogul, and I think he’s done a lot of good things in a lot of areas,” Larry Butterfield the owner of Kilwins Chocolates said. “He told us he is looking forward to working with us and make some improvements and he said he might spend up to a few million dollars there, which is good for us. I think it’s going to work out very well with that gentleman in charge.”
The estimated timeline for the renovations is about a year.