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Business Observer Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 12 years ago

Perico development lands a second life

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A failed condo project in northwest Manatee County has a chance at a new life now that it has new owners.

A failed condo project in northwest Manatee County has a chance at a new life now that it has new owners.

The 350-acre property on Perico Island was being developed by the Jacksonville-based St. Joe Co. as a mix of condo towers, retail space, restaurants and boat slips. But the economic slide stifled interest in the project, called Seven Shores, and St. Joe shut down a pre-construction sales office there in 2007.

Now St. Joe has sold the property, which connects to the Manatee River, Anna Maria Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. Minto Communities LLC, a subsidiary of the Minto Group, a Canadian developer and homebuilder, bought it for an undisclosed price.

While the condo market isn't much better now than when St. Joe shuttered its Seven Shores sales office, Minto does have a few advantages: For one, site plan approvals from the city of Bradenton and other agencies remain intact — a major victory considering that St. Joe executives spent several years fighting the usual cascade of anti-development and anti-growth forces.

St. Joe had also already completed a significant amount of infrastructure work, such as the excavation of a nearly one-mile long lake.

“The housing market has certainly changed since the Perico plan was created,” Minto Communities Executive Vice President Michael Belmont says in a press release. “Our goal is to make sure the housing product we develop meets the needs of today's consumer in terms of price and livability.”

Minto has a large presence in eastern Canada, where it has built more than 65,000 homes and manages a portfolio of rental homes and commercial real estate. In Florida, the company has focused mostly on the East Coast, but it recently announced plans to build homes in Lakewood Ranch and at Grand Hampton in Tampa.

“Over the past year, we've researched several West Coast properties to pinpoint the right opportunity,” Belmont says. “Using the same analytical approach we've used to acquire properties on the east coast of Florida, Perico was determined to be an ideal location.”

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