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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

ST. PETERSBURG, FL-Wells Fargo & Co. has reclaimed possession of the BayWalk retail and entertainment complex and will attempt to resell it on the open market. The San Francisco-based bank was the sole bidder at an auction last week, offering only $100.

Wells Fargo holds a $14.5-million mortgage on the 130,000-square-foot property that it inherited through its acquisition of Charlotte, NC-based Wachovia Corp. late last year. Bank executives decline to discuss their immediate plans for the complex, pending a mandatory 10-day waiting period to assume ownership.

Tampa-based Ciminelli Real Estate Services of Florida, which served as BayWalk’s receiver during the foreclosure process, will continue to direct all aspects of its operations for the time being. Hunter Swearingen, a Ciminelli principal, says the first order of business is “to make BayWalk a safe, clean and enjoyable environment for folks to bring their families.”

BayWalk, which opened in November 2000 as part of Downtown St. Petersburg’s revitalization plans, has been scrutinized in more recent years as a scene of clashes between local youth and police. The property began running into financial problems after local entrepreneur Fred Bullard bought out the other half from the Sembler Co. last summer and subsequently missed scheduled mortgage payments.

Tom McGeachy, managing principal of Ciminelli, points out that the majority of BayWalk’s tenants are still open. “There’s not a huge mystery here,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “You put the care and concern into this property and people will come to enjoy it again.”

Anchored by a 20-screen Muvico theater, BayWalk has a variety of other retailers and restaurants in place including Grille 121, Johnny Rockets, Chico’s and Hurricane Pass Outfitters. The complex is expected to realize an uptick in business this spring resulting from the World Series runner-up Tampa Bay Rays’ upcoming baseball season at nearby Tropicana Field.

Rorebeck Marini Equity Retail Group, the retail brokerage arm of Columbus, OH-based Equity Inc., will handle leasing at BayWalk. The firm was previously leasing agent for the Shoppes at Channelside in Downtown Tampa and now represents the proposed Southshore Commons mixed-use development in south Hillsborough County.

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