San Marco Plaza in Lakewood Ranch reaches new heights

March 1, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Dave Neff’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing Wednesday morning.

Neff, the real estate manager of San Marco Plaza in Lakewood Ranch, received three calls within an hour from business owners inquiring about commercial condominium units in the shopping center.

“More businesses will generate more for the plaza,” Neff said.

Lately, business has been good at San Marco Plaza.

In the last eight months, 10 businesses have bought units in the plaza and the remaining units are in negotiation, Neff said. Sasha, a ballroom dance studio, is set to open soon, as is a two-unit office space for AllCare Medical. By the end of the year, Neff is hoping San Marco Plaza will be at full occupancy, including the ground floor of the Venetian-style clock tower located in the center of the plaza.

Montgomery’s Carpets Plus Colortile opened a month ago in the plaza, according to manager George Garmon. He’s managed another store in Venice for 20 years, and wanted to venture into the Lakewood Ranch area.

“It’s a very nice location,” he said. “It gets a lot of traffic.”

The store, which is open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, is holding a grand opening today.

“San Marco Plaza has really come back to life,” Garmon said.

Neff said traffic at the complex, which opened in 2007, has increased 300 percent. Yellow Strawberry Hair & Makeup Salon, which opened in August, has been a big hit, he said. Barb Smith opened 2nd Ann Rose, a designer consignment boutique, last April. Her current boutique has outgrown its space and Smith will expand to another unit in the complex.

“If it’s any indication, I see about 80 women a day,” Smith said.

The plan for a $1 million Veteran Memorial Park in Sam Marco is underway, which will feature 8,500 plaques for veterans and a dancing fountain. The project is expected to be completed next year. Meanwhile, the complex has added benches and chairs along the sidewalk of the center and added energy efficient lightning in the parking.

Two years ago, the thought of adding to the plaza was doubtful.

The business owners in the plaza voted to take control of the condominium association from the developer, Neff said, and that’s when it started to see signs of progress.

“The people here struggled for so long,” Neff said.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Tweet: @_1NickWilliams

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