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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2010 7 years ago

WB Plaza tenants open but wonder what's in store

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

For Sandra LaRose, it’s business as usual at Design 2000. Sure, it’s summer, and business has cooled while temperatures have soared, but she and her staff continue to provide their usual salon services to customers. LaRose, however, worries that clients who are currently out of town might not know that her salon is still open for business.

Whitney Beach Plaza, where the salon is located, is in foreclosure, and the largest business in the shopping center, Whitney Beach Deli & Wines, closed in August. Tina Rudek, of Engel & Völkers Longboat Key/Anna Maria Island, is currently negotiating a short sale for the property. The potential buyer, a real-estate investor who has a client who wants to open a gourmet grocery chain in the plaza, is currently reaching the end of a due diligence period, which expires in September.

“Everything is moving forward in a positive direction,” Rudek said.

In August, Rudek told The Longboat Observer that the buyer hopes to keep the existing plaza tenants.

Despite uncertainty, the plaza’s remaining tenants continue to operate while they await word on the plaza’s future but worry that customers will think that the entire plaza has closed.

“We worry that they might make appointments other places for the season,” LaRose said. “Being on the island for 16 years, I have an established clientele. The last three years have been difficult because of the center, but (established clientele) has helped us survive.”

Rick Obeid, owner of Key T-Shirts, said that he has had customers ask him if he plans to close his store.

“I’m staying for now, but it’s all dependent on the direction the center goes,” he said.

Tom Mayers, president of the Longboat Key Historical Society, which rents space in the plaza, said that the group will continue to pay rent unless it is given notice to do otherwise.

“Until somebody contacts us, we’ll just assume that we’re still there,” he said.

Jim Eatrides, president of Alpha-Omega Communications Inc., whose office is also located in the shopping center, said that he is waiting to find out the plaza’s future before making decisions.

“We’re all pretty much in limbo,” he said.

Richard Estrin, president and principal broker at Longview Realty Inc., which relocated from 6400 Gulf of Mexico Drive to Whitney Beach Plaza in May, hopes that the move will be permanent.

“We’d love to stay here forever,” he said. “It’s convenient, it has a nice view of the water … we’re going to stay as long as we can.”

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].

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