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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 26, 2004 14 years ago

Mike Miller Q&A

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Mike Miller discusses his Venice properties, the risks with tight propety and high prices sports and The Crow's Nest in Venice.

Mike Miller Q&A

MIKE MILLER

FOUNDER, DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT

WATERFORD COMPANIES

The Facts

Years in the business: 17

Past notable developments: Waterford Championship Golf Community; Laurel Interchange Business Park, a 150-acre commercial industrial park; Jacaranda Commercial Center, a 35-acre commercial park; Lake View Office Park; Venice Gateway Condominiums; Waterfront on Venice Islands Condominiums; Venetia Condominiums; Oak Forest in Englewood; Island Park Condominiums.

Square feet of commercial real estate development: 300,000 square feet of office and industrial in the Venice area

Headquarters: Venice

Where he lives: Venice

The Scoop

What's going to drive development over the next 18 months to five years? "The biggest thing that has affected our market, which is primarily retirees, is not only the baby boomers themselves, but also the fact that they are retiring younger and/or buying second homes younger. If you took a look at our sales, for example, you'd see that in 2003, our sales jumped, and they are continuing to jump. A lot of it has to do with two things. One of them is the simple numbers of people moving to Florida. The second is the availability of inventory, which would be land or lots that have permits to build. The availability of the product is changing with the limits and restrictions of the development process."

Do you see rate of growth increasing? "I think there are mechanisms in place that really keep the growth somewhere between 3% and 5%, and our comprehensive plan that the county and the city have passed in conjunction with the zoning really limits the capacity of growth."

What are the risks that concern you the most over this period? "In my individual business, the biggest risks are the ability to buy land and get it approved for development in a period that makes it economically feasible. It's getting more and more risky to try to buy land based on the price you pay for the land and what you're going to be able to do with it. Without those approvals, it's very risky to buy land at a high price."

What advice would you give to public officials to deal with new development? "Overall, the comprehensive plan works; the biggest growth is really going to come from the large tracts of land. There are very limited large tracts of land out there. You have Taylor Ranch, part of it in North Port and part of it in the county. They are certainly going through long, tedious processes to get those approved. Then you have the 2050 plan that is regulating the other three or four large tracts of land ¦ I think the county and the city do have the mechanisms in place to keep it from growing too fast."

What mark do you want to leave on this area? "We would like to feel that the quality of life has been enhanced through the development of the communities we build, both residential communities and commercial communities. Overall, we're confident that we have improved the quality of life for many of the people who have bought our homes, and I consider that an accomplishment. Our latest endeavor at the Venice Airport is to develop a community there to preserve some of the history of the circus and provide an area for a lot of activities for future generations to enjoy."

Personal

Where do you go to escape the office? What types of recreation do you enjoy? "I enjoy boating with my family, coaching Little League baseball, attending Tampa Bay Buccaneers games - we have season tickets - and spending a lot of time with my five kids.

Favorite restaurant: The Crow's Nest in Venice

Key gadget on his desk: A small sign that reads, "Let's find at least one reason why this can be done."

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