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Sarasota Friday, Sep. 11, 2009 8 years ago

Sarasotans purchasing Quay site


Patrick Kelly’s vision of a $1 billion condo-retail-office-hotel development on the site of the former Sarasota Quay is dead.

Four Sarasota-area businessmen — Mark Famiglio, Burton “Skip” Sack, Bob Morris and Chuck Madden — are on the verge of taking control of the Irish developer’s property and pursuing a new vision.

They want to construct an event center and hotel and perhaps retail and residential units on the 15-acre site.

Morris, former co-owner of the Rooks/Morris Real Estate brokerage in Sarasota, told The Observer Thursday Anglo Irish Bank Corp. consented to a transaction in which Sarasota developer Zeb Portanova’s SRQ Holdings would assign its purchase contract on the property to Morris’ group, CMR Bayside Associates.

Portanova recently said he was abandoning his $1 billion project, which included plans to develop a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and a mixed-use theater, office and residential complex. This past spring Portanova entered a purchase contract with Anglo Irish Bank to acquire the Bayside/Quay property from Kelly and his partners.

But when Portanova was unable to close on the purchase, Morris said his group began negotiations with the bank and Portanova to step in for Portanova.

Morris said CMR Bayside still must clear up two liens on the property before it can obtain clear title to the property. “The bank thinks we can work through them,” Morris said, by executing a “friendly foreclosure.”

Morris said his group would purchase the bank’s mortgages on the property for cash for “30 to 50 cents on the dollar.” That would put the purchase price between $28 million and $48 million. Morris said Kelly’s group had mortgages on the property totaling about $96 million.

Kelly and partners purchased the Quay property in 2004 for $60 million. Two years later, they doubled the size of the project when they spent $20 million to acquire the El Vernona condominiums next to the Quay site. The group later obtained city approval to construct as many as 600 condominiums in four high-rise towers, about 150,000 square feet of retail space and 70,000 square feet of office space.

But when the recession hit, Kelly and his partners found themselves in the same predicament as many developers — they overborrowed, unable to keep current on the loans.

This past February, Portanova approached Morris to find out how to contact Kelly. Portanova wanted to relocate his proposed Waldorf-Astoria project — dubbed the Proscenium — from acreage on the east side of Tamiami Trail to the Quay site. Morris talked to Madden, a former partner in DVA Sports, which tried to develop a hockey arena at Lakewood Ranch. Madden then contacted associates in Boston, who facilitated talks with Anglo Irish Bank.

By July, Portanova’s SRQ Holdings had the Quay site under contract to purchase.

But in the weeks that followed, when it appeared Portanova would be unable to close on the purchase, Morris, Madden and their Boston associates began discussions with the bank on a contingency plan. Morris contacted Sack, a part-time Longboat Key resident and formerly one of Applebee’s largest franchisees and shareholders. And Sack deferred to Famiglio, a commercial property owner and president of the Sarasota Film Festival. The two share ownership of an airplane.

Said Sack: “Mark is the developer. I’m just on the sidelines.”

Famiglio could not be reached for comment.

Now operating as principals of CMR Bayside Associates, the group hopes to scale down Kelly’s plans and focus on constructing an event center and hotel.

Morris cited London, Ontario, as an example — where that city has an event center shared by a hockey team and the city’s symphony. “An arena on steroids,” Morris said.

“The thing we’re trying to avoid is making a lot of promises,” Morris said.

But he said the group hopes to work with the city of Sarasota perhaps to create a government entity similar to, say, the Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority, which might own the complex. Morris said his group envisions a private company operating the center and that it would not require any taxpayer subsidies for operations. He said his group has already had discussions with a Boston company that operates centers around the country.

Asked how the event center might affect the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Morris said: “It would complement it. It doesn’t have to put it out of business.

“I can guarantee you this,” Morris said: “There would be events at this center that everyone would want to come to.”


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