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Area developers, investors say timing is ripe for more business in East County

Commercial interests gobble up land from interstate to Lorraine Road.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. November 27, 2019
  • East County
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Realtor and real estate investor Howard Sadwin has fielded at least 50 calls in the past 12 months from potential buyers for his 15-acre commercially zoned property at the southwest corner of Lorraine Road and State Road 64.

Last month, there was a contract on the land from a developer who wanted to build apartments, but the deal didn’t work out.

The property previously had been entitled for two out-parcels and 93,000 square feet of commercial space.

“I think that’s still viable,” Sadwin said of the concept.

Sadwin said it’s just a matter of time before the site is developed. He said potential buyers have told him the area is still too “green,” which means there aren’t enough homes yet.

He disagrees.

“My answer to that is, ‘It’s green today, but tomorrow it’ll be concrete,’” Sadwin said.

Immediately south and east, 10,000 homes are approved for Lakewood Ranch alone on lands between Lorraine Road and the future Bourneside Boulevard and state roads 64 and 70. Several residential projects are already under construction, including Taylor Morrison’s future 1,750-home Azario and Kolter Homes’s 648-home Cresswind project, which opened in October.

“There are all kinds of activity going around us,” Sadwin said. “It’s just a question of time.”

Real estate investor Dan Kreinbrink, of Entrust Freedom LLC, said now is the right time to rezone his 10-acre property at the northeast corner of Lorraine Road and S.R. 64 from agricultural to general commercial. He bought it in the early 1990s with development in mind.

He said the timing is right because of the growth in the Lakewood Ranch area.

Entrust Freedom will seek its rezone allowing up to 100,000 square feet of commercial from Manatee County commissioners in December that would provide for a variety of retail uses and services in free-standing parcels or shopping centers. If that’s approved, anyone who buys the property will know to what standards it must build.

“It makes it a lot simpler for everyone involved,” Kreinbrink said.

Kreinbrink said he’s seeking top dollar — $7 million — for his 10-acre property.

“It’s going to take a high-end [buyer], maybe even a Fortune 500 company,” he said. “I want a neighborhood center that’s going to have high-end clients out there that will make the residents of Mill Creek happy. Lower-end developers are not going to get my attention.”

He said he envisions a center that could be home to a medical institute, possibly heart or eye-related, and he’d like to see such tenants as Whole Foods, Bahama Breeze or other nationally recognized brands. Ultimately, however, such things will be decided by the property’s future developer.

“There are all kinds of activity going around us. It’s just a question of time.” — Realtor Howard Sadwin

Kreinbrink said he expects growth of Lakewood Ranch to create more demand for commercial in the area, even east of Lorraine Road in the future.

Aaron Ruben, the vice president of development for Casto Southeast Realty Services, agreed. Casto has a mixed-use project with apartments and commercial buildings at the southeast corner of State Road 64 and 117th Street East in for permitting now, and he hopes to break ground on the project in early 2020.

“There is still more retail to come,” he said. “I think we’re in [the height] of it right now. It’s coming. You see all the residential development popping up. That’s the thing that comes first. You see reports Lakewood Ranch is the [second]-fastest growing master-planned community in the entire country. It’s not going to slow down anytime soon.”

Commercial Realtor Daniel Douglass, of J. Daniel Douglass Licensed Real Estate Broker, is representing a roughly five-acre parcel just west of Lorraine Road on the south side of S.R. 64. He said there has been a lot of interest in the site, as well as with combining it with neighboring parcels. Prospective buyers have included single users like a pet motel and a mini storage facility, as well as “big box” stores and even multifamily housing.

“I think something’s going to happen soon,” Douglass said. “Everything from Lakewood Ranch Boulevard to Lorraine Road — within the next five years, you’re going to see a lot [coming] … I think the commercial is lagging way behind for the number of rooftops there [and coming].”

A roughly 5-acre parcel just east of Lorraine Road on the south side of State Road 64 is for sale for $1.5 million.
A roughly 5-acre parcel just east of Lorraine Road on the south side of State Road 64 is for sale for $1.5 million.

Land Planning Associates’ Bob Schmitt, who represents Entrust Freedom in the rezone process, said commercial development along the S.R. 64 corridor is a logical progression for the area from a planner’s perspective.

“Commercial follows rooftops,” he said. “There are a lot of rooftops now. Lorraine used to be the middle of nowhere. Now look at all the growth out there.”

Ruben noted that having commercial uses along S.R. 64 corridor will provide options for East County residents and prevent them from having to drive farther for services.

Some residents of the S.R. 64 corridor said more quality shopping would be nice. However, they are concerned about traffic on the roadway. The Florida Department of Transportation is constructing its first of three roundabouts at Rye Road/White Eagle Boulevard at S.R. 64, and others are planned at Lorraine Road/145th Street East and at Greyhawk Boulevard/Pope Road.

Mill Creek’s Bette Karolkiewicz said she worries about traffic safety along S.R. 64 because she already has a hard time exiting her community.

“The more it develops, the more traffic there’s going to be,” she said. “There’s already too much traffic on the roads.”

She said she thinks the area will sustain new businesses along S.R. 64, as well as at the corner of Lorraine, though traffic speeds, volume and congestion are problematic.

“It would be a good commercial spot if the road situation was different,” Karolkiewicz said. “I just think they haven’t thought through enough on the roads.”

Country Creek resident Erin Goetting said she has mixed feelings about commercial development coming. She would like to see high quality tenants with unique sit-down dining restaurants and possibly a grocer like Whole Foods.

“It would be nice to have some higher end things here,” Goetting said.


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