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Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

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  • | 6:00 p.m. January 30, 2004
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Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

Health problems force Ruben to resign

Wayne Ruben, managing partner of Benderson Development Co. Inc.'s Florida operations for the past decade, has resigned from the company for health reasons.

Ruben, 47, has undergone two back operations in recent months. "He has been feeling pretty down in the dumps with his back problems," says Nathan Benderson, the company's founder. Benderson said Ruben informed him and Randall Benderson of his departure about 10 days ago.

Ruben could not be reached for comment.

Ruben leaves the company after leading its growth in Florida from the purchase of eight money-losing shopping centers in 1993 to owning and operating more than 5 million square feet of commercial space in more than 50 shopping centers, hotels, storage centers and residential developments throughout the state. In 2001, GCBR recognized Ruben's accomplishments by naming him Entrepreneur of the Year.

Ruben's departure also occurred just as the company nears completion of its $40 million renovation of a troubled outlet mall into University Consumer Square at University Parkway and Interstate 75. Ruben also led the company's efforts to construct a Wal-Mart Super Center at University and Honore, a project the Manatee County Commission recently rejected. And for the past two years, Ruben has spearheaded the company's plans to construct a 1 million-square-foot lifestyle retail, restaurant and theater center on the southwest corner of University Parkway and I-75.

The senior Benderson said Ruben will remain "our associate" and retain his equity stakes in numerous Benderson projects around Florida. Benderson's son, Randall, the corporation's president, will take over as head of the company's Florida operations. Benderson said Ruben's departure will have no effect on Ed Vogler, a Bradenton lawyer who became a partner in the company at the end of 2003.

Last month, Benderson Development announced it would relocate its corporate headquarters from Buffalo to Bradenton.

How the Quay deal was financed

Irish developer Paddy Kelly and his affiliated companies paid $49.3 million in three transactions to acquire the Sarasota Quay and an outparcel, according to deeds and mortgages filed with the Sarasota County clerk of courts.

Records also show Kelly and his Irish American Management Services Ltd. took out mortgages totaling $24.57 million to finance the purchases.

Irish American Management Services Ltd. purchased the Sarasota Quay office and retail center and a nearby outparcel in two transactions this past week. The office/retail complex sold for $37 million, while an outparcel sold for $4.3 million. The sellers of the office/retail complex were Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnership Ltd. and Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnership No. 2 Ltd. The president of both partnerships is Sheldon Fenton of Toronto; Sarasotan Rene Gareau is listed as a director.

Last August, Irish American Management purchased its first Quay parcel for $8 million. The sellers in that deal were Basin Developments Partnership Ltd., a Florida corporation also headed by Fenton.

In the $37 million transaction, Irish American signed mortgages with Anglo Irish Bank Corp. PLC, Sarasota Retail Investments Inc., Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnership Ltd. and Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnership No. 2 Ltd. The Dublin-based bank Anglo Irish Bank Corp. provided a $12 million mortgage and assumed a primary debt-holder position. Sarasota Retail Investments Inc., whose president is John Vernon Head, provided a mortgage for $14,640,753. That mortgage will expire in Oct. 1, 2008.

The third mortgage for the remainder of the main Quay structure was with the former owners, Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnership Ltd. and Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnership 2 Ltd., for $7,359,247.

At the same time, Irish American Management purchased an outparcel next to the Quay from Reemark Sarasota Quay Inc. The new owner mortgaged the property back to Reemark Sarasota Quay for $2,569,368. That mortgage reaches maturity in Oct. 1, 2008. Reemark also is headed by Fenton.

All of the mortgage holders have clauses requiring that any alteration or development to the property must first be approved by them.

Irish American's purchase comes 13 years after the two Sarasota Quay U.S. Partnerships purchased the pink landmark. In January 1991, the two groups purchased the complex from a troubled savings and loan, Goldome Sarasota Inc. for $23.78 million.

Reemark Sarasota Quay Inc. originally purchased the outparcel in this latest transaction in July 1995. The purchase price then was $350,000.

The new Quay plans: seven 38-story towers?

Over in Ireland they already know what Irish developer Paddy Kelly has in store for Sarasota's Quay. In a recent newspaper article, sent to GCBR by Kelly's Sarasota contacts, reporter Tom McEnaney (we were unable to confirm the name of the newspaper) tells readers of plans that will make Sarasota's anti-growth goons wet their knickers. Here's the story in its entirety:

Headline: "Kelly leads Irish consortium in $1.5bn Florida hotel scheme"

Story: "A group of Irish investors led by the hotelier Paddy Kelly is developing a $1.5 billion hotel and apartment complex on the Florida coast. The consortium has planning permission for seven 22-story towers and is negotiating to increase the size of the skyscrapers to 38 stories.

"The towers will be built on a 10.5-acre site at Sarasota on the west Florida coast on a plot of land bordered by the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and the Hyatt Sarasota. It is understood the group is negotiating with the owners of the Ritz-Carlton to have some of the apartments in the Irish complex associated with the luxury hotel. Serviced apartments associated with hotels are increasingly popular with American holiday-makers.

"The group is in negotiations with the owners of the Hyatt Sarasota to have its site included as part of the Irish complex. Kelly and his partners are also negotiating with other adjoining landowners with a view to increasing the size of the complex to 15 acres.

"Harbour Place Sarasota is the working title of the development, which, as well as being largely owned by Irish investors, will have a particularly Irish feel.

"The developers are keen to avoid the traditional image of shillelaghs and leprechauns in favor of a more modern vision of Ireland. 'What we want is for it to be at least in part an Irish experience, but by Irish we are talking more Aer than harps and shamrocks,' said Kelly.

"About $50 million has been invested in the project so far, but the deal has been structured in such a way that the Irish investors have put up less than half of this, with the remainder coming mainly from bank debt. Once completed, the development is expected to be valued at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, depending on the density that is allowed and the successful outcome of negotiations with potential partners.

"Kelly is one of Ireland's most successful property developers. He is well known in Dublin business circles for his ebullient style. Current projects in Dublin include the rejuvenation of the Smithfield area of the inner city, a hotel and apartment complex on Burlington Road, a development on the south docks and a hotel and serviced apartment scheme at Disneyland Paris.

"Kelly is also the largest shareholder in the Choice Hotel Group, which, with 29 properties is the largest in Ireland, but ranks second to the Jurys Doyle Group in terms of rooms. Kelly's style is to work with partners who take an equity share in the projects he heads.

"According to Kelly, the key to the success of the development is the group's alliance with Cendant Avis, which through its franchise operations has one of the largest networks of hotels in the world."

Out and about¦

He calls this a vacation: John Saputo, fast-running chief executive officer of Gold Coast Eagle Distributing and a U.S. Marine Reserves colonel, told GCBR last week his company was hustling non-stop to prepare for the Super Bowl and then spring break. But before all heck broke loose, thanks to his wife's coaxing, he was going to take a vacation - from Thursday through Sunday. "I haven't taken a vacation since I've been back from the war," says the Iraq War veteran. Some vacation: four days ¦ Richard Hays, associate superintendent of Sarasota County public schools' business operations, says he'll finish a few school projects over the next month before he heads back into the private sector. He's happy to be going back to his management consulting practice, he says. Hays, who had applied for the superintendent's position but was passed over for a lifelong educrat, says he'll renew previous business relationships. Exxon has been one of his customers for nearly a quarter-century ¦ While many U.S. manufacturing executives have droopy faces over the loss of jobs and business to foreign competitors, Allen Carlson, president and chief executive officer of Sarasota-based Sun Hydraulics Corp., says Sun is having overseas success. Carlson says orders for Sun's valves and manifolds "are dropping off the trees" in France, thanks to the recent drop in the value of the dollar ¦ Meanwhile, Sarasota-Manatee manufacturers appear to be healthy overall: a roudy 91 attendees showed up for the monthly Sarasota & Manatee Manufacturers Association dinner last week ¦ On track at USF: Laurey Stryker, CEO of the University of South Florida Manatee-Sarasota campus, tells GCBR the school crossed the 3,000-student enrollment threshold in the winter term. "We're on schedule to double in five years as we said we would," Stryker says.


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