Jon Astore said his architect father handed him a building block before a baby bottle.
“I love designing good things for the world,” he said. “We’re innovating a new concept in Luxe Flex Garage.”
Astore has been a resident of Manatee County for over 20 years and is the managing partner at Luxe Dream Garage.
The new Flex storage garage will be built across the street from the original on Systems Court in Lakewood Ranch. Plans have passed preliminary reviews with Sarasota County, but Astore said they won’t be handing out keys for another two years. With a $5,000 refundable deposit, prospective owners can reserve a space now.
Luxe Dream and Luxe Flex share the same concept of owning and customizing your own garage versus renting a space, but Flex is a slightly paired down version of the original.
“We had a lot of feedback where the price points were not obtainable for much of the population, which was understandable, The Luxe Dream garages range in the $300,000s to $680,000,” Astore said. “So we started to conceptualize this other concept.”
While Luxe Dream had no problem selling out, Luxe Flex will have a lounge instead of a clubhouse and smaller units to appeal to a wider range of budgets.
Astore became involved in the business after he wanted to add a garage onto his home, but knew he wouldn’t be able to get his money back out of the investment. He estimates seven out of 10 homeowners in suburbia are just like him and in need of more space because the garage is filled with everything other than cars.
Flex offers buyers more storage and a real estate investment. Dream was kept "car-centric;" Flex garages will be opened up to other hobbyists. But it's still sure to attract car enthusiasts, and with a lift, each unit can hold three cars.
Astore could name every make and model of car by the time he was 10 years old, which he said was many decades ago. By 15, he’d saved enough money from delivering newspapers to buy a 1968 Opel Kadett Rallye.
“I wish I had it today,” he said. “I paid $400, which was a lot of money back then.”
By 23, he’d already opened a classic car dealership. Having grown up in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., his dream was to make his mark on the National Mall.
“My vision of life for me at that time was to build a really good reputation, and then eventually be able to influence those of importance on the hill and build a car museum on the mall,” Astore said. “The car is one of the most influential things in building this country.”
After five years, Astore decided his passion for cars wasn’t enough to keep him in the business of cars. He describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur.” He’s an architect by means of education, but that too was more of a love than a career.
With Luxe, Astore’s passion for cars, building and real estate have collided. He’s a partner, but he’s also the typical owner at the garage. His Sundays are spent working on cars. His latest paramour is a cinnamon red 1977 Vega GT hatchback named Lucy.
“She’s named after Lucille Ball because she is hot and spicy and always gets in trouble,” Astore said. “She’s sitting with 465 horsepower Dyno tested to the rear wheels.”
A Dyno test determines horsepower by measuring the engine’s revolutions per minute, but that’s something owners and prospective owners at Luxe would already know.
Correction: The article has been updated to reflect unit capacity of three cars per unit with a lift.
Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.