With $28 million loan hanging over its head, Tampa Bay Times sells off parking lot

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The Times Publishing Co. announced today that it would sell a parking lot at its downtown headquarters to an apartment developer.

Terms of the real estate transaction were not disclosed. How’s that for transparency from the newspaper which will not hesitate to crucify the politician who does not disclose how much he or she tipped at lunch, much less the full scope of his (and his spouse’s) personal finances.

In 2012, developer NRP Group paid $6 million for another Times parking lot at 430 Third Ave. S, where crews are now building Beacon 430, a four-story, 326-apartment complex expected to begin leasing this fall.

That $6 million and the money from this latest deal are, undoubtedly, earmarked for paying down an all but usurious $28 million loan the Times took out to keep itself afloat.

According to Richard Mullins of the Tampa Tribune, The Times Publishing Company took out the $28 million loan in December of 2013, backed by the company’s headquarters building and other property, according to public records filed with the Pinellas County Clerk.

At the same time, the Times paid off a $13 million mortgage from C1 Bank. Times officials confirmed at the time statements by their executives that the new loan was being used to refinance existing debt and to help grow the business.

The $28 million loan matures in 2016 and was provided by Boston-based Crystal Financial LLC, which specializes in “making loans to companies who require more debt capital than is currently made available from traditional lenders,” according to its investment profile.

That’s $12 million or so down, Timesmen, about $16 million left to go.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.