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East County Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2011 4 years ago

Businesses eye San Marco units

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by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Business, it seems, is brewing in San Marco Plaza.

Banks began foreclosing on more than one-third of units in the shopping center more than two years ago, but until recently, those same units have been priced higher than market value.

David Neff, a Realtor with JS Realty, said he now has six active contracts on units in the plaza, including one for the clock tower. Another two have expired, but prospective buyers still are optimistic the banks will move forward with the deal, he said.

“(One) bank is working on obtaining title (to seven of the properties), and to my understanding, that should occur by mid-May,” Neff said.

Neff said businesses interested in buying into the plaza include a ballroom dance club, a medical spa, physical therapist, dentist, a salon and a well-known Italian restaurant.

“This is a prime location that has been neglected for too long,” Neff said. “I see the possibilities and it’s going to blossom into something great.”

Mark Manges, owner of Skybox Asset Management, is expected to close this week on the 1,100-square-foot corner unit formerly occupied by Haagen-Dazs and open in June.

“I just love San Marco,” Manges said. “The banks have tied it up and this is the first time they’re willing to deal. We’re one of the first ones that got a contract. It’s going to be great.”

And 2nd Ann Rose, a high-end consignment boutique for charitable organizations, opened April 8 and already is offering designer clothing and jewelry, paintings, furniture and more at its spot adjacent to Che Bella Salon and Spa.

The shop, currently open Tuesday through Sunday, offers individuals an opportunity to sell high-end merchandise on consignment. Owners earn 50-60% on the sale of their consigned items, or they can designate proceeds toward their charitable organization of choice.

“I wanted to make more money for nonprofits and the Women’s Resource Center,” said owner Barbara Smith, who managed the Resource Center’s Encore & More shop for seven years.

Smith said she plans to host trunk shows, jewelry parties and other events at the shop to draw in customers and raise money for non-profits.

Smith is leasing the space month-to-month from the San Marco Condominium Association, which has physical title of the property, and is waiting for approval to buy the space from the bank.

San Marco Condominium Association Vice President Kevin Neurer said banks have either delayed foreclosure proceedings or sat on foreclosed properties for the last two years, making them unmarketable and un-rentable.

Of the plaza’s 35 total units, 18 units are vacant, and of those, 15 are owned or controlled by banks, Neurer said. Offers have been made on nearly every unit, but none has resulted in a sale, he said.

Contact Pam Eubanks at peubanks@yourobserver.com.

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