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News & Notes

Foodie-focused company sells Lee County offices for $2.4M

In the week's top commercial real estate news, a Lakewood Ranch warehouse unit sells for $1.2 million, works starts on the former St. Pete police HQ site, and a Cuban bakery is opening in Ave Maria.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 5:00 a.m. March 3, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Local restaurateur Phong Ho is the franchisee of a new Cuban bakery coming to Ave Maria.
Local restaurateur Phong Ho is the franchisee of a new Cuban bakery coming to Ave Maria.
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Naples/Fort Myers/Charlotte

Miami vice: A Miami chain of Cuban bakeries is coming to Ave Maria, the Collier County planned community. Vicky Bakery is expected to open late this month with up to 25 employees. The Ave Maria shop is a franchise and, according to a news release, owned by local restaurateur Phong Ho who already owns a Tropical Smoothie and Oasis The Kitchen Lounge in the Ave Maria Town Center. The shop, also in the town center, will be Vicky’s first location outside of South Florida. And, according to the company’s website, a second Southwest Florida location is expected to open soon. This one will be at 4429 Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers. The family-owned Vicky Bakery was founded in 1972 by Cuban refugees Antonio and Gelasia Cao in the Miami suburb of Hialeah. It is still family owned and, along with franchisees, operates 23 locations mostly in and around Miami and Fort Lauderdale. 

Resort eating: Just a little more than two months after opening its doors, Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor has added a new restaurant. The addition is Blue Lime, described as a “contemporary Baja-inspired Mexican restaurant.” The eatery is next to the resort’s Reflections Pool and features both indoor and outdoor dining. The Allegiant Travel Co.-owned Charlotte County resort has 20-dining offerings including seven restaurants and a food hall. The $695 million resort opened to guests Dec. 15 after several delays and budget overruns. Along with the eateries, it has 785 rooms, two pools, a spa and salon, a 117,000-square-foot “ground level experience,” an adults-only rooftop retreat, 60,000 square feet of meeting space, a harbor walk and 18-hole golf course.

Foodie farewell: Bonita Springs based Innovative Food Holdings, a publicly traded company that caters to professional and home chefs, has sold its 10,265-square-foot office building in the city for $2.45 million. The company, in a statement, says it pocketed about $1.9 million after paying off a $355,603 loan on the property, $147,300 in agent fees and $56,439. Innovative did not disclose the buyer of the building at 28411 Race Track Road in the Greyhound Commerce Park and Lee County property records hadn’t been updated last week. In the statement the company says the majority of its Florida employees are now working remotely and that it moved a few office workers to a 1,000-square foot leased office space nearby. The move is expected to save the company $60,000 annually. Bill Bennett, Innovative’s CEO, says in the statement that the sale is part of a plan to stabilize the company and eliminate debt. It is selling a Pennsylvania warehouse as well.

Tampa/St. Petersburg/ Pasco/Polk

Construction begun on The Circle, a St. Petersburg mixed-use development on the site of the city’s former police headquarters.
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On the edge: Construction has officially started on a major St. Petersburg mixed-use development on the site of the city’s former police headquarters. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held last week on the 2.1-acre site once dubbed Orange Station but is now known as The Circle. The project is in the city’s Edge District and will include 14,000 square feet of retail space, 115,000 square feet of office space, an Autograph Collection Hotel, 42 workforce apartments and a 600-space parking garage. The hotel, a spokesperson says, will be the first new four-star hotel in downtown St. Petersburg since The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, also an Autograph hotel, and the city’s first new Class A office space “in decades.” The former police building was demolished in 2021. The project will border a public plaza with an art installation honoring the “Courageous 12” police officers whose efforts led to the integration of the St. Petersburg Police Department in 1968. 


A 172-unit build-to-rent community just outside of Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton has sold.
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Looking forward: Lakewood Ranch-based Neal Communities, one of the most prolific homebuilders in the region, has sold a 172-unit build-to-rent community in east Manatee County to an unnamed institutional investor. The sale price was not disclosed. The deal is a forward sale and was structured by commercial real estate services firm Berkadia, according to a statement. A forward sale, according to the website Investopia, is “a customized contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a specified price on a future date.” J.P Morgan Global Alternatives advised the buyer. The development sits on 39 acres on State Road 64 just outside of Lakewood Ranch. Neal began construction on the property in July 2022. The community, named Marisol, has 172 single-story duplex style “paired villas” that range from 1,434 square feet to 1,524-square feet. The two-bedroom villas come with dens, two-car garages, screened-in lanais and backyards.

Affordable living: Sarasota County commissioners unanimously approved a mixed-use development on 113.8 acres of county property near the Sarasota city limit. According to the Sarasota Observer, a sister paper of the Business Observer, commissioners approved an application from Midtown SRQ (formerly known as Gracewater Midtown) to build as many as 1,479 residential units and up to 20,000 square feet of commercial space on land at 2501 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. As a condition of the approval, at least 25% of the units must be set aside as affordable housing with half the designated units priced at 60% or below the area median income and the other half at 80% or below. The contract between the county and the developer also requires the commercial piece to include at least a pharmacy and grocery store, the Observer reports.

Just a sliver: A 5,776-square-foot unit within a warehouse building in Lakewood Ranch has sold for $1.2 million. The unit is an industrial condominium shell space inside a warehouse at the Gatewood Corporate Center at 3025 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. The buyer, according to SVN Commercial Advisory Group, is a local LLC. The plans call for a business brokerage and a cabinet company to move into the space when the buyer finishes a build out, the firm says. A spokesman for SVN confirmed in a follow up email that only the single unit — 105 — was sold for the $1.2 million.

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Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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