A local investment group with ties to PGA golfer Greg Norman has acquired the Main Plaza/Hollywood 20 complex in downtown Sarasota for $18.1 million, with an aim of reviving the aging office and retail center.
The group, comprising of entrepreneurs Jesse Biter, Eric Baird and David Chessler, say they have no set plans for the property. The deal closed Thursday.
The 8.6-acre site, anchored by Regal Cinema’s Hollywood 20 theater, a YMCA branch, Ker’s Wing House and others, had been owned since 2005 by Connecticut-based Paragon Realty Group LLC. Paragon paid $40 million for the 1991 Main St. property.
“That side of Main Street has really struggled,” Chessler said, in an interview with the Observer Media Group. “We want to do something special there. We want it to be magnificent for the community.”
Chessler is the founder of GPS Industries in Sarasota, a company that installs global positioning software in golf carts. Chessler, no longer active in day-to-day operations at GPS, is also the managing director and chief investment officer of the Great White Shark Opportunity Fund. The fund is a $75 million enterprise overseen by Norman, an Australian whose nickname is “The Shark.”
It could not be determined whether Norman or his fund would have capital invested in Main Plaza.
Redeveloping Main Plaza could be a daunting task. In addition to a lack of new development around it, Main Plaza has lost tenants of late and the 30-year-old complex has shown signs of age.
The sale of the 254,000-square-foot complex also comes just months before Regal’s lease in the complex is set to expire. Speculation has arisen that with the pending opening of a CineBistro theater in the Southgate Mall, Regal may want to either significantly downsize or leave the market altogether.