A real estate developer by trade, Sarasota's David Slone always is looking for his next project.
He had that in mind, too, during the many times he drove to visit his brother, James Slone, who lives in the Lakewood Ranch area.
David Slone had combined with four business partners to consider building a garage condo concept. The question wasn't so much if they would do the project, it was just where to put it.
David Slone continued to drive through Lakewood Ranch to see his brother, and it finally hit him.
"I kept falling in love with Lakewood Ranch more and more," he said. "This is the perfect neighborhood ... Multi-million dollar homes. And Waterside Place is the cream."
So the Luxe Dream Garage motor condo complex will be built on Communications Parkway in the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, right across from the back entrance to Gold Coast Eagle Distributing. Slone said the groundbreaking for the 5.2-acre parcel is scheduled for July 1 and he expects the first condos to be ready by late fall.
Although it is his first motor condo complex, Slone is convinced it will be successful. He already has sold more than 30 units in the 65-unit complex and he expects to be sold out before the project breaks ground. The garage condos range in price from $300,000 to $475,000. Sales began in November.
Slone said his customers range from the average Joe car collector to those who collect high-end luxury vehicles. Already the buyers have had American muscle cars, retro vehicles, Ferraris and BMWs, boats, or even have needed a place to store the high-end audio equipment they were selling.
But when they have attended area auto shows, they keep running into people who need a place to store their favorite cars.
"This is an underserved market," he said.
In November, 2019, Sarasota residents Hans Schmeits and Dennis Brozak opened Wheel Base,at 1600 Sarasota Center Blvd., just south of Waterside at Lakewood Ranch. That was the first dip into the garage condo market in the area, but Slone said his Luxe Dream Garage will be a more high-end project with owners able to customize their spaces.
"This project will be the prototype," he said.
But why the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park?
Slone said he looked for properties along State Road 64 but he felt he was getting away from his target base of Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota. He said the location just off University Parkway is not only convenient for those two area, but it is accessible by Interstate 75 for car and boat enthusiasts from Parrish to Venice.
All the condos will have high ceilings that will enable owners to add a mezzanine level if they so desire. He said those who have decide to add a mezzanine level so far have designed kitchens to go on that level.
"Everything in these condos is customized," he said.
He gave as an example the 3 X 7 foot windows above the entry doors. It is uncommon in the industry, but when added, it provides natural light.
The property will have a 3,000-square foot clubhouse for events and socializing. The plan, at least early, will be to have monthly events at the clubhouse.
The project has been so successful, Slone said he already is seeking another property in the area.
"I've been developing for 35 years and I am always looking," he said. "What will the market accept? Is the timing right? How's the competition? I know other people are going to come into the marketplace."
He said he will look for ways to keep improving his product.
"You never can relax," he said. "You want to keep learning from your buyers."
He said the project shouldn't be considered odd.
"It is similar to those people who belong to a golf club," he said.
But did it appear odd to him when he first heard the idea?
"I would admit I thought I would develop something a little different than this," he said.
Now it makes perfect sense.
"I have a two-car garage," he said. "I am going to have one of these."