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Commercial Real Estate
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 25, 2019 3 weeks ago

Construction firm carves out niche in luxury condos — for cars

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Wheel Base Premium Garage Condos is coming soon to Sarasota.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

The skies of Florida’s west coast are dotted with cranes busy at work on condo projects. These residential towers provide luxury living for residents of the state, new and old. But state-of-the-art condos aren’t just for people anymore.

They’re now for cars, too.

One noted example: Wheel Base Premium Garage Condos, coming soon to Sarasota. The 54,000-square-foot facility for car collections is under construction now. Project officials decline to disclose the total value. 

Wheel Base will have 46 units that range from 674 square feet priced at $150,000 to 2,500 square feet priced at $490,000. Owners will also pay a maintenance fee. The smallest condo can hold three cars. The capacity of the largest unit depends on how cars are stacked. The facility is expected to be completed in summer 2020.

Lori Sax. Sarasota-based Atlas Building Co. President Andy Stultz and Vice President of Construction Charlie Woehle are working on a Wheel Base Premium Garage Condos project in Sarasota.

Sarasota-based Atlas Building Co. is constructing the facility, at 1600 Sarasota Center Boulevard, east of Interstate 75. President Andy Stultz thinks it’s one of the first projects like it in the area where car enthusiasts can own a garage condo unit, but he doesn’t think it will be the last — far from it. The commercial contractor is in talks now with other developers about similar projects. “In this area and this region, net worth is going up every day, and expectations are going up every day,” he says.

Atlas first started talking with Hans Schmeits, one of the project owners, in June 2018. The firm broke ground on the project in August —a 14 month timeframe. Stultz says Atlas likes having a long pre-construction phase. Where Atlas adds the most value, he says, is helping with the creation of a project team and working with that team through the design process, budgeting process and beyond.

With Wheel Base, the work began for the commercial contractor when the project owners, Schmeits and Dennis Brozak, came to Atlas with a picture of another car condo project as inspiration. Atlas then helped select an architect, Ron Zawistowski of Innovative Design Studios in St. Petersburg. Atlas also served as a local guide, helping the developers navigate the intricacies of doing a construction project on the west coast of Florida.

Atlas Building Co. Vice President of Construction Charlie Woehle, project manager for Wheel Base, says the project is not like an average garage — not only because some units are the size of a house. The facility will have air conditioning, restrooms, Wi-Fi and a clubhouse with a meeting room. Owners will also be able to keep multiple cars in their units and will have the option to build a loft in their space. The units will be sold as finished products, not just as shells.

'In this area and this region, net worth is going up every day, and expectations are going up every day.' Andy Stultz, Atlas Building Co.

The facility will have security and hurricane features, from impact-resistant doors and windows to perimeter fencing, security cameras and entry gates. “It’s a safer place to have your collection,” Woehle says.

Stultz thinks car condos will become a trend similar to how self-storage has been popular in the area. But the units aren’t quite the same as self-storage — the car condos will be for sale not for lease, the finishes will be done at a much higher level and security will be more sophisticated. “This concept is becoming more and more popular around the country, especially in Florida,” says Stultz. “I think it’s a trend we’re going to see more of.”

The popularity of car condos is in part, he says, because of deed restrictions that prevent people from keeping additional cars in their driveway or on the street. There’s also a key problem many residential condo owners face — their condo units only come with one to two spaces for cars. Facilities such as Wheel Base give owners the flexibility to live wherever they want and still have the cars they want, he says. An example of another car condo complex in the region is in Collier County, with Naples Motor Condos. 

Car condos, says Woehle, make sense because of Sarasota’s evolving demographics that includes a sizable segment of high-wealth individuals. Businesses in the area have opened or added services to cater to clientele in that group. As two indicators, he points to storage facilities specifically for people’s wine collections and luxury car dealerships.

The Wheel Base developers have another parcel across the street where they could build more units. For now, they’re waiting to see how the first round of car condos kicks off. “I don’t see it going away,” Stultz says. “We have two to three different developers talking about doing similar projects in Tampa and other areas.”

 

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