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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 1 year ago

Sunz Insurance completes move from Sarasota

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Sunz Insurance Co. has sold its Sarasota office building in the International Trade Center, capping its nearly year-long headquarters' move to Bradenton, in Manatee County.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

Sunz Insurance Co. has sold its Sarasota office building in the International Trade Center, capping its nearly year-long headquarters' move to Bradenton, in Manatee County.

The workers compensation insurer sold its 22 Sarasota Center Blvd. building to Fig Tree & Grace, a school for special-needs children, for $1.25 million. That was the same price that Sunz acquired the 7,902-square-foot building for in November 2014, according to property records. The building was completed in 2001, records indicate.

Earlier this year, Sunz began a corporate shift to downtown Bradenton after buying a six-story building at 1301 Sixth Ave. W., the former offices of First Bank. The financial institution pulled out of Southwest Florida in 2015, leading to its $2.3 million sale of the property in late December. First Bank had initially marketed the property for sale at $3.9 million.

“This new location will allow us to continue to support the personnel growth we are experiencing,” Sunz CEO Steve Herrig indicated earlier this year.

Sunz has about 300 employees in Bradenton, where it is occupying roughly half of its 59,100-square-foot building. The company is operating from a pair of floors in the 40-year-old building and renovating a third.

“The building was just too good an opportunity to pass up,” says Jag Grewal, a partner in Sarasota-based Ian Black Real Estate, who together with the firm's Amy MacDougall represented Sunz and who helped negotiate the company's 1301 Sixth Ave. W. deal.

“And that move, while giving Sunz additional space, has had by far the most economic impact for Bradenton of anything in the past year,” Grewal adds. “It's brought renewed energy to downtown.”

Ian Black's Nick DeVito II and Joanna Ginder-Ashley negotiated on behalf of Fig Tree in the Sarasota transaction.

Downtown Bradenton's office market was especially hard hit by the last decade's economic recession, and hasn't recovered to the same degree other submarkets have this real estate cycle.

Office vacancy at the end of the third quarter of this year downtown stood at 23.6%, says Debra Cooper, an agent with commercial brokerage firm SVN in Bradenton. That rate is down, however, from more than 30% at this time two years ago. The office vacancy rate in Manatee County, by comparison, is 15.85%.

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