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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 1, 2016 4 years ago

No retreat

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A Polk County developer has long focused on downtown Winter Haven. That attention is about to get even bigger.
by: Anita Todd Contributing Writer

SweetSpot
Six/Ten

Why 2016 is important: Projects this year for downtown Winter Haven, a major focus for the company, include apartments and potentially two office buildings.

A recent public announcement that the downtown Winter Haven area infrastructure could support up to 300 residences seemed to press Six/Ten's go button.

The Winter Haven-based residential and commercial developer quickly added a nine-unit apartment complex to the list of 24 constructed or renovated properties it has completed in the downtown area over the past 30 years. Six/Ten CEO Carl “Bud” Strang and the firm's investors believed the $2 million project, The RainGarden Apartments, would kick-start other local residential building developments.

It did. Currently under construction by Pinnacle Housing Group is Tupelo View, a three-building, 70-unit apartment complex scheduled to open in February. And Strang says phase one of The RainGarden Apartments project went so well the firm will soon begin construction on phase two, which is seven more apartments.

Six/Ten's 24 properties in downtown Winter Haven add up to about 350,000 square feet the firm has built or renovated and currently owns and/or manages. There are few storefronts, undeveloped land or buildings in town not touched by the company, which Strang's father, Carl Strang Jr., founded in 1985. The name Six/Ten comes from a saying the founder was fond of: “If you succeed six out of 10 times, you're ultimately going to win.”

That take-the-long-view strategy permeates through Six/Ten. Besides developing and leasing residential and commercial space, Six/Ten has investments in a software firm, a cyber-security company and an organic blueberry business.

Winter Haven, meanwhile, once known for Cypress Gardens ski shows, has been working to create a new image, one that has a work-live-play component. The city has begun to respond to a report that called for more downtown residential units, with projects that include a new parking garage, pavers and streetlights.

“There is a lot of public investment in the downtown area,” says Winter Haven Growth Management Director Merle Bishop. “The one missing ingredient was more residential units. So The RainGarden Apartments were very welcome.”

Once the second of the two residential projects is complete, Six/Ten will begin construction on two office building projects currently in the design phase. “Although we have been doing this (revitalization) for years, the past four or five have been accelerated,” Strang says. “The timing seemed good to pick it up and for the apartments, so we took the opportunity.”

The RainGarden Apartments project replaced a vacant lot and orange grove. The two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath apartments are about 1,600 square feet and each unit includes a two-car enclosed garage and courtyard. All nine apartments are leased.

“We are seeing more folks moving here from out of the area,” Strang says. “In the evening, there are more and more people out in downtown, having dinner or enjoying an event. Downtown is, at the end of the day, a mixed-use development from the inside out.”

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