Jesse Gaddis: Riverside Market Lot "Was Never a Big Issue of Mine"
This is a followup to our piece mapping out property owned by Yellow Cab and real estate mogul Jesse Gaddis, one of the richest people in Fort Lauderdale.
Gaddis recently attempted to purchase a city-owned lot that just happens to be the parking lot for Riverside Market Cafe, a popular hangout that needs the parking to qualify for a zoning change to keep serving liquor.
Rumors have been swirling around the neighborhood's palm-lined streets that Gaddis has been scheming to wrestle the lot from the café's owner, Julian Siegel. He called us up yesterday, though, and (as nicely as you could expect from an annoyed 80-year-old) told us that he really doesn't care that much.
"This issue about the vacant lot, that was never a big issue of mine," he says. Siegel "decided to make it a big cause. I don't really care about it."
Gaddis, who's been buying and selling properties in town for decades, says he was just looking to expand the parking for his building, and put in a bid. He says he also approached Siegel about leasing the land to continue using it as a parking lot, but the talks didn't go anywhere. "Then all these people showed up at city hall in yellow shirts," and he looked like Mr. Pennybags trying to put the little guy out of business.
Still, the fact is that due to the bungled announcement of the first auction, the price has skyrocketed and Siegel is on the hook for around 20 grand, plus more for needed improvements to bring the lot up to code. But all in all, Gaddis is going to sleep soundly no matter what comes of it.
He rejected our implication that his connections with city and county officials in the area had something to do with the bidding process: "I never talked to one commissioner about it," he says.
Gaddis also slyly pointed out that our fairly extensive map of his property holdings was by no means complete. "You did miss a lot of my real estate," he said.
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