EAST COUNTY — Lakewood Ranch resident Heather Perry plans to bark up so much business that she has plans to expand her new company even before it opens.
As Perry sits inside a red-brick home on Lorraine Road, she waves toward the teal-painted walls, a future juice-and-coffee bar and a pool out back dedicated to the exercise of dogs.
This place — the future Canine Ranch Country Club — is just a half-mile away from Perry’s most recent purchase: the 25-acre Faith Christian Church campus, at 8215 Lorraine Road.
Perry and her husband, Nathan, have been renovating their country club location at 5557 Lorraine Road since purchasing the property in July 2013.
“We have been so excited about this center,” Perry said. “I always look at the big picture — what if we are bursting at the seams? Here, I can only (care for) like 50 dogs for daycare at a time. My guess is we’ll need to expand rather quickly.”
The thought prompted Perry to look for additional acreage. She heard Faith may be torn for development and contacted its owner, C1 Bank. The Manatee County Planning Commission had recommended denial of the proposed development at a May 8 hearing, and the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners was slated to hear the proposal June 5, but the item was delayed.
The Perrys purchased the 25-acre Faith site June 4 for $991,000 — the bank’s asking price — with the plan to subdivide the acreage.
“Everybody we met really wanted the church to stay a church,” Perry said. “We wanted to by more property because we are opening what you see here.”
“I think I caught the bank at the right time,” she said. “I said, ‘My plan is to keep it a church and subdivide it.’ I will keep the other 18 acres.”
Although Perry promised her husband she wouldn’t do anything with the new property for one year, she said she couldn’t help but return a few phone calls about it.
After speaking with representatives of three local churches, Perry already has a buyer: Happy Gospel Church.
Happy Gospel plans to close on about seven acres, including the church building, by the end of the month.
The Rev. Bill Bailey, Happy Gospel’s pastor, said Happy Gospel plans to prepare the building for services in August and open the facility to the public in September. Little renovation will be required, although landscaping needs improvement, he said.
Happy Gospel’s existing location on State Road 70 will modify its name and schedule with the change. Happy Gospel Church at the Ranch will hold services at 9 a.m. Sundays, while Happy Gospel Church at Bradenton will hold services (currently at 10 a.m.) at 11 a.m. Sundays.
The pastoral team will conduct services live from both locations, Bailey said.
Bailey announced the pending purchase to his congregation June 30 and already has been promoting the change with videos on the church’s website, HappyGospelChurch.com
“Our goal all along was (to buy) this property, but we couldn’t get the bank to speak to us,” Bailey said. “It’s obviously the largest growth area here. The church property is in a strategic location.”
Perry and Bailey declined to disclose the agreed-upon purchase price at this time, but Perry said she could have sold the property to a developer for a higher amount.
“Some people might say I was a fool, but this was bigger than just the money,” Perry said. “It allows the people in the area of Lakewood Ranch to have a church again, and it allows me to have enough property.”
Perry said she plans to subdivide the remaining 18 acres for a small development and space for Canine Ranch Country Club once it expands.
“My idea of heaven would be to live there with five other families with kids and farm animals,” Perry said.
As Happy Gospel moves forward with closing on the property, Perry is finalizing details for the sale and dedicating her time to finishing the buildout of the country club.
She expects to erect a “coming soon” sign for the club later this month. A grand opening is slated for the fall, she said.
+ Couple plans canine country club
Heather Perry and her husband, Nathan, purchased an 8.6-acre property at 5557 Lorraine Road, one-half mile from the Faith church site, for their new business — the future Canine Ranch Country Club — in July 2013.
Since then, they have gutted the red-brick house there and reconfigured it to include a reception area, dog play areas, a grooming room and a members-only common area with teal-painted walls, couches and chairs, a juice bar and a room for doga (dog yoga). When finished, the property even will include walking trails, a dog-only pool, an agility course and other amenities.
Country club memberships likely will start around $30 a month, although Perry said prices have not yet been formalized and may change over time. Members will have access to the members’ lounge, dog pool, doga and dog-focused seminars and classes, as well as books, tapes and videos related to dogs.
Members also will receive discounts on services open to the general public, including dog massage, “pet-icures,” doggie daycare and more.
Perry, who promoted an online dating service before starting her own personal development center in Tyson’s Corner, Va., said she is confident the concept will be popular.
“I realized how much people like being a member of something with like-minded individuals,” Perry said.
A sign for the future club is planned to go up by the end of the month.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.