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East County Thursday, Jun. 4, 2009 8 years ago

Ranch Golden Apple site for sale

by: Pam McTeer

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s Lakewood Ranch space is for sale.

Theatre owner Bob Turoff made the announcement at the San Marco Plaza Condominium Association meeting June 1, said John Harshman, broker and agent for the Golden Apple.

The 8,500-square-foot space, which is also permitted for a 6,000-square-foot mezzanine, is listed at $1.2 million.

“Everybody, including the Golden Apple, is saddened that The Golden Apple is not going to go in there,” Harshman said. “They had plans and were looking forward to the Lakewood Ranch operation. Everybody’s supportive of having a different use in there that would also invigorate San Marco (Plaza).”

Harshman said the decision to sell is a byproduct of the economy. Plans for the theater had been in the works for more than four years.

Property records show that Bob Turoff and his wife, Roberta, purchased the site in July 2007. Since then, they have faced difficulty with permitting and financing.

Although the space has been planned as a theater, the parcel is zoned for planned development mixed use, which means a variety of uses, including a theater or a retail store, among other options, could be suitable for the site if approved Lakewood Ranch and Manatee County.

“The space is a completed shell, and that means that the walls are up, the roof is up and the sprinkler system is in,” Harshman said. “The floor is still dirt, but all the plumbing is stubbed out in the site.”

The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre opened at its downtown Sarasota location in December 1971 and is the longest-running equity dinner theatre in the country.

However, in the last few years in particular, the theater has faced problems with parking and later fell into financial trouble. The 13,600-square-foot building has been on the market and is currently listed at $2.999 million.

“We’ve had a good bit of activity on it,” Harshman said. “We’ve had it under contract several different times and development plans for it have not gone through. Contracts have been terminated and we are actively on the market now.”

Harshman could not say whether a sale of Lakewood Ranch property would keep the Turoffs from having to sell the downtown location or vice versa.

“We’re going to cross that bridge when we get to it and see what happens,” Harshman said. “The Golden Apple is still in operation and active downtown, but both sides are on the market for sale.”

Bob Turoff did not return repeated phone calls for comment.

Read about San Marco Plaza's new board of directors as well as former board member Gary Moyer's financial troubles.

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].

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