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Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana)

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  • | 6:00 p.m. September 30, 2005
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Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana)

Like father, like son

After selling residential property on Florida's east coast for 4.5 years, Lee DeLieto Jr., 40, has joined his father Michael Saunders & Co. commercial Realtor Lee DeLieto.

"The reason I came back was first and foremost to work with - in my most biased opinion - the No. 1 commercial agent on the west coast," DeLieto Jr. says. "He has been asking me for a while to come back and learn the business. I wanted to be a success story on my own in residential. Recently, I decided it was time. I'm giving myself 12 months to hone my skills and communicate with the right people."

The younger DeLieto says residential and commercial real estate are similar, but the transaction process is quite different.

"The time trends are much longer, and commercial is just a different animal," DeLieto says. "There is less emotion to the transaction; it is always focused on the bottom line."

DeLieto Jr. has heard many nicknames, from Lee Jr. to Deuce.

The younger DeLieto, who plans to shadow his father for the near future, passed his state commercial test in January.

"He is my retirement plan," says DeLieto Sr., at least partially joking. "He has tremendous analytical skills ... and he knows how to ask the right questions."

Sun's rise in Bradenton

Suncoast Bank is expanding to Manatee County. The Sarasota-based Bank, which has two branches, is building a third much larger branch at 5115 State Road 64 E. near the Bright House Networks building. The 8,000-square-foot building will serve as not only a banking site but also will house some of the bank's senior managers.

Nicholas Dzembo, branch manager, says that although the new $1.47 million building will not be completed until February, it will open a modular there in the next two to three weeks. The building, designed by Bradenton architect Jerry Zoller, is being constructed by Fred M. Starling Inc.

Suncoast has told shareholders that it plans to grow by one new branch a year over the next seven years.

Michael Saunders moves into Fort Myers

Michael Saunders & Co. of Sarasota, the upscale-residential real estate broker, is testing up-and-coming Fort Myers. The company recently leased 1,500 square feet of office space on Summerlin Road at the corner of Pine Ridge Road in Fort Myers to help Minnesota-based Heritage Development sell 224 condominiums at Gulf Lakes.

Michael Saunders, the brokerage's president and chief executive officer, says she leased the office space temporarily because a sales center won't be ready on site until later this year.

Meanwhile, Saunders says she's working with several developers of downtown residential towers to help them sell their condos, but she declined to name them. "We've been looking at Fort Myers for at least two years," she says.

Pittsburgh bank expands here

PNC Bank has brought in another veteran banker to continue an expansion of its SBA loan program along the Gulf Coast.

Tom Kruger will originate federal Small Business Administration loans from Sarasota. Kruger has worked for more than 15 years in banking for the Business Loan Source LLC, People's Community Bank of the West Coast and Wachovia Bank.

Kruger joins Kent Anderson, who opened PNC's first Florida office in Tampa nearly four months ago. Anderson, PNC's Southeastern SBA sales manager, has 25 years of finance experience and has funded more than $40 million in small business loans.

Hoffman pegs Babcock Ranch deal at $700 million

Al Hoffman Jr., chairman of the board of Bonita Springs-based WCI Communities, says West Palm Beach developer Kitson & Partners and Morgan Stanley will pay $700 million to buy Babcock Florida Co., owner of the 91,000-acre ranch that straddles Lee and Charlotte counties. Although Hoffman is not involved in the Babcock deal, Hoffman is one of Florida's leading residential developers and was recently named U.S. ambassador to Portugal.

Hoffman says the development trend away from the coastal areas and into the state's interior has now taken firm hold, even though he says he did not think much of the trend at first.

In addition to the Babcock deal, Hoffman pointed to Ave Maria, a new town under development in eastern Collier County. Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and Barron Collier Cos. in 2002 entered into a partnership to invest $300 million to build Ave Maria on 5,000 acres in east Collier County. "I thought he was loony," Hoffman says of Monaghan's investment.

Meanwhile, Kitson hasn't revealed what he and Morgan Stanley intend to pay for Babcock Ranch if the deal goes through. He is negotiating to sell 74,000 acres to the state for environmental preservation and he's trying to obtain approvals to develop the remaining parcel into a residential community.

Rose to head Coldwell Banker operations

Coldwell Banker last month realigned the structure of its commercial division, putting Elliot Rose in charge of the statewide commercial operations. Rose has served as executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate-West Florida since April 2002, based out of Sarasota

"Our commercial program prior to Aug. 1 was decentralized, where we had each operation reporting to its own regional infrastructure," Rose says. "We decided to centralize it so that all the commercial directors statewide report directly to me for efficiencies and maximizing our resources."

The new structure was created to help the firm "become more effective in how we implement our commercial program," he says.

"We found that with nine operations around the state that certain ones were appropriately customizing their strategies and deliverables to fit their market, but they were missing out on best practices and what was being done in other parts of the state," Rose says.

Under the new alignment, Rose says he is the point-person for Coldwell's programs for both builders and developers.

"There is a high instance of mixed-use projects going," he says. "It used to be either pure commercial or pure residential. I wanted to marry those two functional areas together more closely."



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