Bubba the Love Sponge backs out of purchase of historic Jackson Rooming House

Bubba will still pay owner for the property

TAMPA, Fla. - Todd Clem, known to his radio audience as "Bubba the Love Sponge," says he was blindsided Monday when it came time to close on the purchase of the century old Jackson Rooming House.

"All of a sudden, the city comes up and says we've got $8,000 of fines that have to be paid and you're going to continue to incur $75 a day in fines every day. And they just gave me some outrageous demands that I can't meet," complained Clem at press conference broadcast live during his morning radio show.

Tampa's City Attorney says the priority has been to make sure the building is made structurally secure before it falls down on the right of way, possibly causing damage or injury.

"We said we'd give him six months, which is what he asked for, but we also said we need benchmarks. We need to know when things are going to happen, because I don't want to get to five and half months and nothing's happened," said City Attorney Julia Mandell.

Mandell says many of the requirements were well known to all parties long before Monday and the deadlines were negotiable. As for the code violation fines, Mandell says most could be waived after the improvements are made.

But the root of the disagreement may be the animosity between Mayor Buckhorn and the area's dominant radio personality. Buckhorn famously called Bubba "a complete moron" in an email made public in 2012. Bubba threatened political revenge.

"Unfortunately, I think this has turned into kind of a personal vendetta with the Mayor," said Clem.

Bubba went on to suggest that Bob Buckhorn is ignoring the black voters who supported his election and that he has designs on the Jackson House lot for a downtown ballpark or other project.

The Mayor declined to comment but his office said those claims were baseless. Bubba the Love Sponge maintains this effort was sincere.  

"This is not a p.r. stunt. This is not a shock jock deal. We're trying to do something right, but he (Buckhorn) thwarted it all. All we needed was for the City to be proud of this project and work with us," said Clem.

Assuming the property is demolished, Clem and his investors are going to pay the owner, Willie Robinson Jr., the $100,000 dollar appraised value of the property and pay for the demolition costs.

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