The Gulf Coast Community Foundation has sold a 300-acre tract in North Venice once envisioned as an affordable housing development to a prominent regional land developer for roughly $18 million.
Neal Land Ventures’ acquisition of the former “Bridges” property marks a shift from more than a decade ago, when the foundation proposed building homes to counter a perceived affordability issue in Sarasota County.
Those plans were shelved, however, when the economic recession of the last decade took hold and made the project less financially feasible.
Greg Luberecki, a foundation spokesman, says the organization will channel the proceeds of the sale into programs aimed at reducing homelessness, furthering financial sustainability and similar initiatives.
“The Gulf Coast Community Foundation has held this property as an investment for several years, and the board of the foundation decided about a year to market the property for an eventual sale,” Luberecki says.
“We plan to put the proceeds back into programs working in the community, where we think they will have the greatest impact on the region.”
Ian Black Real Estate agents Michele Fuller, Matt Kezar and Stacy Rosenberg represented the foundation in the late May transaction.
John Neal, a former Neal Communities executive who formed Neal Land in 2013, says the company has not yet considered the eventual sale of the property.
“We haven’t talked about the sale side,” he says. “Right now, we’re focused on formulating a great design consistent with the (Comprehensive) Plan and the code of the City of Venice, and on doing a project that will produce good long-term value.”
In addition to Venice, where it owns 290 acres, Neal Land also controls more than 750 acres in North River Ranch, in Manatee County, according to its website.
Pat Neal, the founder and head of Neal Communities, says the North Venice property is currently zoned for roughly 1,500 homes, but that “less density” would likely be developed there. The property also could be used to construct medical-related uses and senior housing.
Neal Communities is among one of the largest homebuilders in South Sarasota County, with communities in the master-planned West Villages development between Venice and North Port and elsewhere.
“We consider Venice to be a very important place,” he says.