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Belpointe makes second Sarasota purchase

Connecticut-based Opportunity Zone-targeted real estate investment trust sets its sights on redeveloping an entire city block.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. November 27, 2020
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COURTESY PHOTO — An affiliate of Belpointe REIT of Connecticut has acquired the 1700 block of Main Street in downtown Sarasota (lower right) and an adjacent building for nearly $12 million.
COURTESY PHOTO — An affiliate of Belpointe REIT of Connecticut has acquired the 1700 block of Main Street in downtown Sarasota (lower right) and an adjacent building for nearly $12 million.
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A Greenwich, Conn.-based company that is redeveloping the Main Plaza in downtown Sarasota into apartments and retail space has acquired a second downtown tract that spans more than a city block, according to county property records.

Belpointe REIT Inc. affiliates acquired three buildings and surface parking comprising the 1700 block of Main Street for $6.8 million late last month, records show.

Another entity controlled by the real estate investment trust also acquired a seven-story office building and adjacent parking owned and occupied by Frontier Communications at 1701 Ringling Blvd. for $5.04 million, Sarasota County records show.

The three Main Street buildings at 1700-1718 Main St. consist of a single-story retail and office complex, a vacant three-story office building that most recently had been occupied by Iberia Bank and a former Firestone auto repair center currently occupied by the Tube Dude art purveyor.

That 1.3-acre property, which had been owned by affiliates of Sarasota investor Christopher Brown, had been on the market for more than the past year and is located in an Opportunity Zone.

“This is a great downtown location,” says Ashley Bloom, a partner in commercial real estate brokerage firm SVN Lotus Commercial Real Estate Advisors, which represented Brown’s entities in the transaction together with agents Ron Zeigler, Rob Henry and Chris Malkin.

“I think they’ll put together a really exciting project there.”

Federally designated Opportunity Zones provide investors with tax and capital gains advantages provided they meet certain criteria regarding their investments and length of ownership.

Belpointe officials declined to comment on their plans for the Main Street and Ringling Boulevard properties, which are bounded by Main Street, Pine Place, Ringling Boulevard and Indian Place.

Under current city zoning rules, Belpointe could redevelop the Main Street site with as many as 65 residential units in a five-story building on the 1700 Main St. block, though it may be able to transfer residential development rights from the Frontier property to increase that number.

Belpointe’s purchase from Frontier, which was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, according to court documents filed in association with the communications company’s disposition.

The sale to Belpointe includes a lease that will give Frontier rights to the 95,264-square-foot office building and 30 parking spaces through the end of October 2040 and as long as October 2070, the result of lease options contained in the agreement.

Belpointe was represented in the transaction by Kevin Robbins of Robbins Commercial Real Estate, an affiliate of Harry E. Robbins Associates Inc., of Sarasota.

The deal for the 1700 block of Main St. and the Ringling Boulevard property mark the real estate investment trust’s second venture in downtown Sarasota.

In late September, Belpointe began demolition work on a portion of the two-story, 259,000-square-foot Main Plaza office and retail complex, where it plans a pair of buildings with 418 apartments and 50,000 square feet of retail space, including a food hall.

The private equity firm acquired 8.6 acres of Main Plaza, at 1991 Main St., in late 2019 for roughly $20 million. Another Main Plaza tract, which includes the Regal Cinemas’ Hollywood 11 theater and was excluded from the original marketing efforts, is now being offered for sale for about $9 million.

The Main Plaza purchase represented the first for Belpointe since it created the REIT earlier in 2019 to develop multifamily projects in growing Southeast cities, according to its website.

Belpointe REIT is part of a family of companies that includes wealth management, asset management, specialty insurance and a law firm, Greenwich Legal Associates LLC.

Like Belpointe REIT, Greenwich Legal is headed by Brandon Lacoff and Martin Lacoff.

Brandon Lacoff is the REIT’s president and CEO and founder of Belpointe, while Martin Lacoff is the REIT’s chief strategic officer. Brandon Lacoff is managing partner of Greenwich Legal and Martin Lacoff is the firm’s executive manager.

Prior to Belpointe, Brandon Lacoff co-founded Belray Capital, also in Greenwich. That firm was acquired by Belpointe in 2011. He also worked in accounting firm Ernst & Young’s mergers and acquisitions department, according to Belpointe’s website.

Before joining Belpointe, Martin Lacoff was vice chairman and co-founder of Walker Energy Partners; founder and chairman of LaClare Securities Inc.; and a vice president at the predecessor to brokerage firm PaineWebber, according to Belpointe’s website.

Today, Belpointe REIT is publicly traded on the Over-The-Counter stock exchange.





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