Big Deals

By Beau Denton July 31, 2010

Manatee County

New MTI Campus Scheduled for 2013

In late June the Manatee County school board approved plans to construct a 209,369-square-foot campus for Manatee Technical Institute off S.R. 70 in east Bradenton. The new building will replace the current campus on 34th Street West and will cost more than $41 million to complete by early 2013. Fawley Bryant Architects will oversee the project, which MTI hopes to begin by February. Plans for the current campus property have not been announced.

DeSoto Square Adds New Stores

Bradenton’s DeSoto Square Mall has added three new stores this summer, as well as an arcade center that includes a miniature golf course, and a new burger restaurant in the food court. Business has dwindled at the mall in the difficult economy, but administrators hope the new stores and attractions will draw more people. The new tenants are Bargain Bin, Shoe Connection, Miracle Eyebrows, Saturn 5 arcade center and Burger City.

Bradenton Prep Auctioned for $100

Bradenton Preparatory Academy was auctioned on July 2 for the minimum bid of $100. GTE Federal Credit Union, which was awarded a $3.68 million mortgage agreement against the school in April, was the only bidder. The settlement will give the credit union full ownership of the campus. Bradenton Prep owes an additional $1.92 million to Freedom Holdings Manatee LLC, as well as federal and state tax liens and unpaid teacher salaries. Despite its financial issues, the academy was reawarded accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in late June.

USF Sarasota-Manatee Announces Plans for Growth

The University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus announced plans to start offering courses for freshmen and sophomores in addition to its upperclassmen classes, beginning in 2012. The move is part of the school’s plans to become more distinct from its Tampa parent school by designing classes independently and with local students in mind. USF is also building a North Port campus, and it announced plans for new buildings, including its first student dormitory, on the southeast end of the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Sarasota County

Clockwork Home Services Acquired by Direct Energy

Sarasota-based Clockwork Home Services, Inc. was purchased by Direct Energy in June for $183 million. The transaction gives Clockwork access to Direct Energy’s capital to fuel future growth. Clockwork’s headquarters will remain in Sarasota, and its three major brands (One-Hour Air Conditioning & Heating, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky) will continue to grow throughout the country. It is not yet clear if Clockwork will maintain its name or assume the Direct Energy title.

Ford Amphitheater Becomes 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater

After its contract with Ford expired this summer, Tampa’s Ford Amphitheatre was renamed the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. Siesta Key chiropractor Gary Kompothecras, the founder of 1-800-ASK-GARY, the medical and legal referral service with the unavoidable tagline, is known for large political contributions and supporting causes benefiting disabled children. Though exact numbers have not been released, the new contract is said to be worth less than half of Ford’s, which was $775,000 per year.

Sarasota County Keeps Contract with Orioles

In early July a Sarasota judge ruled in favor of the county’s $31.2 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Two citizen groups, Citizens for Responsible Government and Citizens for Sunshine, had sued the county, claiming that negotiations for the spring training contract violated Florida’s Sunshine Law. Circuit Judge Bob Bennett agreed that the state’s open government law had been violated, but he ruled that the violation was unintentional and not significant enough to negate the contract, which calls for the continued renovation of Ed Smith Stadium before the 2011 season.

Manatee Company Moves to Sarasota, which assists international customers with American retail purchases, announced that it hopes to hire up to 30 new employees during each of the next five years, meaning it will outgrow its current 40,000-square-foot home in east Bradenton. The company selected new headquarters on McIntosh Road in Sarasota, a 60,000-square-foot property with potential to move into an additional 40,000. The county is offering job-growth incentives to


North Port

North Port to Purchase Warm Mineral Springs

The North Port City Commission voted in late June to buy Warm Mineral Springs from Cypress Lending Group for $6.3 million. Under the tentative purchase agreement, Cypress Lending would then lease the 81-acre natural attraction from the city for 30 years. Even though it has more than $6 million it could use for the transaction, the city will likely seek financial support from Sarasota County and the state. North Port is negotiating for a share in the property’s profit as well as discounts for locals.

North Port Strip Mall Opening for Business

The new Cocoplum Village Shops on Tamiami Trail in North Port is opening this summer, after years of stalled construction and financing issues. A 54,000-square-foot Publix will anchor an additional 26,000 square feet of retail space. Benderson Development, which built the strip mall, announced in July the six stores joining the Publix: Little Caesars, General Nutrition Center, Radio Shack, Sally Beauty Supply, Escape Nails and Aqua Superstore.

Health Center Expandsin North Port

Sarasota County approved an expansion that will allow the North Port Health Center to see 15,000 patients annually; it currently serves 4,000. DeAngelis Diamond Construction of Naples was hired for the $1.8 million project. The county is offering $1 million for the expansion; remaining funds are coming from the federal government and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice.

North Port Chamber Names New Director

William Gunnin joined the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce in June as the new executive director. Gunnin was formerly the chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Lee, Lake and Sumter counties, and he has 14 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.



The region’s top commercial real estate transactions.

TGM Associates of Utah purchased the Yacht Club at Heritage Harbour from Heritage Harbour Apartments LLC for $43.5 million. The 392-unit apartment complex, located at Kay Road and I-75 in Bradenton, is part of Heritage Harbour, a master-planned community developed by Lennar Corp. on 2,500 acres. The land for the Yacht Club at Heritage Harbour was last purchased in July 2004 for $6.2 million.

Solana Vista Apartments LLC purchased the Fisherman’s Landing Apartments, located at 5501 Fisherman’s Drive in Bradenton, from Fisherman’s Landing Apartments Limited Partnership for $10.4 million. The 200-unit, 17.4-acre property was last purchased for $7.7 million in 1987 and will be renamed Solana Vista Apartments.

Wicker Inn LLC, owned by Ralph and Barry Trine, has purchased the 11-unit Wicker Inn on Longboat Key from Wicker LBK LLC for $4.2 million. The Trines plan to run the inn as a small resort. The property, at 5581 Gulf of Mexico Drive, was last purchased in 2006 for $5.55 million.

Osprey Avenue Productions LLC purchased an office building at 3701 S. Osprey Ave. in Sarasota for $1.92 million. The sellers were F. Donald and Nancy Ann Herman, who previously purchased the 12,264-square-foot property for $1.2 million in November 1997. Osprey Avenue Productions is backed by Advanced Insurance Underwriters, a Hollywood-based insurance firm facing an expiring lease at its current Sarasota location.

Glennlauren LLC of Pennsylvania, backed by investor Thomas Harshman, purchased an office building at 7100 S. Beneva Road in Sarasota from John Cox III for $1.7 million. The 8,225-square-foot building, which was last sold in 1996 for $320,000, is currently being leased to Wells Fargo Advisors.

Dental Care Alliance of Sarasota purchased the Bell Tower Plaza from CRM Florida Properties LLC for $1.7 million. The 13,689-square-foot office building, located at 6240 Lake Osprey Drive in Sarasota, will accommodate the dental company’s expected growth. The building was developed in 2006 by Pruett Homes before being foreclosed on by SunTrust Bank.

Ringling College of Art and Design purchased a 9,720-square-foot retail store and two building lots from Sy and Linda Sherr and Robert and Rona Kantor for $1.25 million. The retail store, located at 3140 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, formerly housed West Marine boating supply, which is consolidating its store on 14th Street West in Bradenton. Ringling has not announced immediate plans to build on the property, which was last sold more than 30 years ago.

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