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Manatee-Sarasota
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 9, 2004 14 years ago

Real Estate Briefs (Sara/Mana edition)

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This week's items: Benderson Development to relocate to Manatee County Ian Black Real Estate chosen to lease Cooper Creek space Beneva, Fruitville center owner plans renovationSouthern Trust Auto Sales buys land for Venice dealership

Real Estate Briefs (Sara/Mana edition)

Benderson Development to

relocate to Manatee County

Buffalo, N.Y.-based commercial giant Benderson Development Co. Inc. is relocating its headquarters to University Parkway in southern Manatee County. Benderson Development, which develops, owns and manages about 40 million square feet of commercial real estate nationwide, has chosen to focus on growing its already significant presence in Florida.

Randall Benderson, president, and Shaun Benderson, assistant vice president, and a group of senior staff from Buffalo will move to Florida. The relocation is expected to bring about 75 jobs to the county, including employees that transfer from Buffalo.

In the short-term, all operations will be handled out of the Florida division office at 8441 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Center. The company will move into a 35,000-square-foot office building under construction north of the center.

Some of the company's latest projects in Florida include four new shopping centers in the Naples area encompassing more than a million square feet; the redevelopment of a 170,000-square-foot plaza in Fort Myers; several new hotels; and University Towne Center in Sarasota, which will include more than 2 million square feet of mixed-use space. The developer, in a partnership with Neal Communities/Neal Custom Homes, is also designing a mixed-use development on 1,600 acres in North Port in a development called Panacea.

"The vast majority of our growth over the last couple of years has been in Florida and nationally," says Randall Benderson. "From a business standpoint it makes sense for us to shift our corporate headquarters to take better advantage of the opportunities presented by our rapidly expanding national portfolio."

Linda Gross of ADWORKS Communications Inc. attributed Benderson Development's increased emphasis on Florida to the success of Managing Partner Wayne Ruben and his staff. "He has really been the driving force in Florida," Gross says. Ruben started Benderson Development's Florida operations with eight distressed shopping centers in 1993 and has grown it to more than 5 million square feet of retail and commercial space. GCBR recognized him as its Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001.

Benderson Development, founded by current Chief Executive Officer Nathan Benderson in 1950, is the largest privately-owned commercial developer in the country.

Ian Black Real Estate chosen

to lease Cooper Creek space

Ian Black Real Estate of Sarasota has scored a coup. It has been chosen as the exclusive leasing agent for Sarasota's Benderson Development Co.'s Cooper Creek Office Park, at Interstate 75 and University Parkway. Two 35,000-square-foot buildings are currently under construction on the site, but one building has already been tapped as the new headquarters of Benderson Development. The other building is targeted at medical users and is being promoted as the closest medical office building to the new hospital that is not in Lakewood Ranch. Units in the building are being offered from 2,500 square feet and up. The first two buildings are scheduled for completion in February or March. A total of 160,000 square feet of office space can been built on the site.

Benderson Development, the largest privately-owned commercial developer, typically does its leasing in-house. "I think they are primarily geared to retail in this area," says Ian Black, president. "They may not have the expertise in office space in the local market. I brought them a few opportunities even before I had the listing. This is a major assignment for the company. We are thrilled to have been selected as the agent for such an incredible project."

Beneva, Fruitville center

owner plans renovation

David Walters, vice president of 10th Way Corp. and president of Clover Realty, Sarasota, has big plans for his family's shopping center at Beneva and Fruitville roads. Walters says that most of the leases for the 20-year-old strip center, with two outparcels (Burger King and Chinese restaurant) expire in July, and he plans a major renovation.

"Walgreen's will be going in where the Chinese restaurant is," says Walters. He also plans to demolish the grocery store to accommodate a Walgreen's. What will remain of the strip center on the about 7-acre site is still being designed. Walters says he is actively looking for a freestanding bank and expects a mix of retail and restaurant space.

In addition, Walters is looking at ways to provide access to six undeveloped acres adjacent to the existing shopping center, but divided from the road by drainage ditches. "They have made it difficult to design something that is commercially viable there," he says. "But I have been thinking of maybe some type of residential or mixed-use development. That is waiting in the wings."

Southern Trust Auto Sales

buys land for Venice dealership

Southern Trust Auto Sales Inc., an independent automobile dealer based in Fort Myers, bought about 2.1 acres at the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Jacaranda Boulevard in Venice from Premier Community Bank and Bank of America for $1.3 million. The three current Southern Trust dealerships - two in Fort Myers and one in Port Charlotte - are owned by Rick and Nick Potts and Gerry Alexander.

"We were really blessed to get that location," Rick Potts says. "It is a growing market." The vacant site is at an intersection that includes a Super Wal-Mart, a Home Depot store and an Eckerd Drug Store.

Southern Trust, the largest independent dealer in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, offers newer used cars, such as former business fleet and off-lease vehicles.

Currently, the dealer is working to rezone the property. Potts hopes to start construction on the dealership by September. The total value of the project is about $2.5 million. The new dealership is expected to hold about 200 cars and will offer a service department.

"Beyond Venice, we will probably go into the Tampa market," Potts says. "We are considering Naples as well, but that is three to four years down the road."

The new Venice location should employ 20 to 25 people. Southern Trust mortgaged the property to Busey Bank for $1.98 million.

New rental warehouse under

construction in Trade Center

Phil DiCarlo of Automotive Specialists, Sarasota, and Joe DeLaGarza are building a 16,200-square-foot warehouse at 8281 Blaikie Court in Sarasota International Trade Center. According to DiCarlo, the warehouse is designed as a rental property with nine tenant spaces. The cost of construction is $682,373, according to the building permit.

"The property is close to the Interstate," says DiCarlo, "and is pretty centrally located (between Sarasota and Manatee County). It is just a nice subdivision for commercial." The two partners plan to develop a number of similar buildings on the property. The facility is scheduled for completion in March. The general contractor for the warehouse is Sarasota-based Jon F. Swift Inc., and the project was financed by LandMark Bank.

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