After five years of planning, jumping through legal hurdles and road construction delays, Manatee’s newest commercial-industrial park is rising just east of I-75 at S.R. 70 and Lena Road.
From the interstate, it doesn’t look like much, but the Creekwood East Corporate Park—a 200-acre multideveloper project—will have 500,000 square feet of commercial flex space, an 80-room hotel, restaurants and a bank. Economic development officials say it is the county’s only business park that allows industrial development with direct access to I-75, and experts estimate it will bring several hundred jobs to the Lakewood Ranch area when it’s finished.
“Once it’s completed, it will benefit the public because people can live nearby and work here,” says Michael Sporer of Interstate Commercial Brokers, which is building two developments and listing others in the park. “If you’re a [commercial] developer and Lakewood Ranch won’t let you in, you get as close as you can.”
The park consists of 32 subdivided lots with Planned Development Industrial (PDI) zoning for industrial services, light manufacturing, research and development, warehouse and distribution, and 16 units for commercial and professional offices.
The commercial-industrial area is just north of the S.R. 70 exit off I-75. There’s a mile frontage road off I-75. Closer to S.R. 70, there are plans for a hotel, restaurants, possibly a bank and other retail, Sporer says.
County approval for Creekwood Park came in January, and Interstate Commercial Brokers’ Creekwood Commons is one of the first projects out of the ground. Five other developments are under construction. The Commons has 22 flex-space units ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 square feet for warehouse, distribution and light manufacturing. There is a choice of front-loading or rear-loading overhead doors, Sporer says.
The units are constructed of masonry and arranged in a landscaped campus setting off Lena Road, where Manatee County plans a four-lane thoroughfare connecting S.R. 70 and S.R. 64.
Hurricane and insurance issues have made most of the developers so far opt for bricks and mortar as opposed to the metal units commonly found in industrial parks. Plus, says Sporer, “We didn’t want to see this become metal city. We want a little bit of architectural appeal.”
A third of the units at the Commons have been sold, Sporer says, and he feels comfortable they’ll all be gone by the time construction is finished in November. A built-out, 1,500-square-foot unit sells for about $225,000. Buildings are “smart” wired to accommodate high-speed Internet. Leasing rates are $12 per square foot triple net.
Many of the businesses locating in the commercial-industrial section are small business owners who live in Lakewood Ranch and now have offices in St. Petersburg or Fort Myers, Sporer says. Among the companies planning to locate in the Commons are Actuary Plans Office, Cahill & Chlebina, Fred B. LaDue & Associates, Hurricane Medical, Interstate Commercial Brokers, Kennedy General Contractors and Mark E. Cahill Homes.
Sporer is getting ready to break ground on his second project in the park, Creekwood Exchange, which will be similar to the Commons except that it will be primarily office and warehouse as opposed to light manufacturing. Sporer sees contractors locating at the Exchange.
“We’ve staggered the projects so we don’t have too much [property] to deal with at once,” says Sporer.
The site’s proximity to I-75 and the rapidly growing Lakewood Ranch, which now has about 10,000 homes is a big selling point, says Sporer. “The county is trying to cluster and create an employment center, which is the right move. You have to support the rooftops here.” Plus, he adds, “you can’t beat the location. You’re 20 minutes from Sarasota and a half-hour from St. Petersburg.”