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Benedict estate home at Villa Am Meer
Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 4 years ago

Our View: The tide is turning on LBK


The turn started with two transactions:

First, the town approval in 2011 and then the redevelopment of Avenue of the Flowers and construction of the new Publix Super Market and CVS drug store.

Then came the sale in October 2012 of the Longboat Key Club and Resort to Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd.

At the time, they seemed isolated, disconnected and not much of a premonition. After all, the pall of the recession lingered, and many Longboaters wondered whether Ocean Properties was going to be good or bad for the future of the Key.

In the case of Avenue of the Flowers, now renamed the Shoppes at Bay Isles, the property had run its course and needed rejuvenating. Yet, Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets, owner of the shopping plaza, easily could have walked away. Its executives and owners, several of whom own residential property on the Key, saw the strife that permeated the town’s politics over the Key Club’s proposed $400 renovation and expansion. What’s more, the tenor of events at the shuttered Colony Beach & Tennis Resort and the declining, all-but-shuttered Whitney Beach shopping center didn’t offer much optimism that Longboat Key was a place still on its way up.

Thank goodness, though, the Publix owners had the sentimental ties to Longboat Key that they do. They knew how important a first-rate Publix was to the overall value of Longboat Key and reinvested for the long term.

Their timing was just right — when values and construction costs had declined and were reaching the bottom of the downturn.

Likewise with Ocean Properties. It bought low.

This is what happens in the wake of recessions. When values fall, opportunistic entrepreneurs and experienced business pragmatists respond.

Indeed, you can bet the farm that Ocean Properties did not acquire a 30-year-old, one-of-a-kind, gulf-and-bay resort with the intention of caretaking its demise.

All of a sudden, with its acquisition of the Key Club, Ocean Properties became the largest owner of resort assets in Greater Sarasota. The Key Club joined Ocean Properties’ portfolio of the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort, the Lido Beach Holiday Inn and Lido Beach Resort.

With this cluster of resorts, Ocean Properties made a definitive statement of its view of the long-term future of the area. As reported on page 3 this week, in the last 10 months, Ocean Properties has invested $4 million into the club at Islandside and Harbourside combined (have you seen the new pool furniture at the Inn on the Beach?). And it made two more major statements about what it thinks of the future of Longboat Key when it announced plans to invest $24 million in a complete renovation and expansion of the Hilton and that it had a contract to purchase the Chart House restaurant and office building adjacent to its Islandside property.

All the while, earlier this year, Michael Saunders & Co. announced sales were restarting for 11 luxury residences at the proposed Beau Claire condominium at mid-Key, and construction has been under way on a mini-spurt of home building on the Gulf side in the 2800 to 3000 blocks of Gulf of Mexico Drive and on Triton Avenue, just north of Bay Isles Road. Altogether, five new homes are under way.

On Tuesday, one more definitive sign of revitalization and belief in Longboat Key emerged. As reported on page 1 this week, Sarasota entrepreneur Jay Tallman, who developed two of the Key’s signature luxury developments, Vizcaya and En Provence, announced he has teamed up with the Chicago investment firm that owns the historic Villa Am Meer/Benedict Estate in the 2200 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive. They plan to construct 16 luxury estate residences on the five-acre property — and also restore the Benedict home as the clubhouse for the development.

Altogether, this investment of close to $100 million sends a strong message. Longboat Key’s location and physical attributes are still superior enough to overcome the anti-investment politics and policies that have emanated in years past from Town Hall.

New life is being injected to the Key. Let’s hope the momentum carries on. As this was going to press, the combatants in the seven-year war at the Colony were on the verge of announcing a settlement. Imagine the energy and optimism that will permeate the Key if that results in a new Colony tennis resort.

And with luck, this positive momentum would continue to travel north, reaching the north end of the island. One day, long before this decade ends, there will be a new direction and use for the Whitney Beach plaza property; it’s the only answer. And who knows, there may even be a miraculous awakening and tidal change in Longbeach Village — allowing Ed Chiles to add 11 more seats to his Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub and creating a dining-and-dock experience that combines the Mar Vista and Moore’s Stone Crab restaurants into a contiguous and redeveloped, old-Florida destination.

+ Fatal conceit
There is no example in the history of mankind that proves government can manage anything more efficiently and effectively than the private sector.

This is the obvious truth that Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and all the other congressional Democrats refuse to accept — all because they don’t want to give in to the opposing political party.

Logic and economics say it’s so. Consider this from John Goodman, creator of health-savings accounts and foremost expert on health-care in America. Writing for last month, Goodman said:
“Is it really credible to think that ObamaCare will reduce the cost of health care?

“Consider that ObamaCare aims to insure an additional 27 million people. If economic studies are correct, once they are insured, these people will try to double their consumption of health care.

“On top of that, millions of employees and their employers will be forced to upgrade their health insurance, making it more generous (and more expensive) than it currently is. Again, more insurance coverage inevitably leads to more spending.

Then there is a lengthy list of preventive services everyone is supposed to insure for, with no copayment or deductible. Even seniors on Medicare are affected. Although no serious scholar has asserted that it has any medical benefits, seniors will be getting a free “wellness checkup” every year, all of which takes doctors’ time and uses valuable resources.

“What we are describing is a huge increase in the demand for care. But the Affordable Care Act does nothing to increase supply. This is virtually guaranteed to put upward pressure on prices. To the extent that prices are prevented from rising, it will create enhanced rationing by waiting. And almost anything patients and doctors do to circumvent the cost of waiting will also add to the money cost of care.”

Let’s look at it another way. Who operates the U.S. Postal Service? Congress, the president and their attendant federal bureaucrats. How’s that working out?

Who issues and manages most of the college loans? Congress, the president and their attendant federal bureaucrats. How’s that working out?

Who operates and manages the Internal Revenue Service? Congress, the president and their attendant bureaucrats. How’s that working out?

Who operates and manages Social Security and Medicare? Congress, the president and their attendant bureacrats. How are they working out?

We could go on for weeks citing failed government programs.

And yet Obama and Reid are so conceited that they are willing to sacrifice Americans to their political egos.
Treason: betrayal of your country. It applies.



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