Dooley loses Lakewood Ranch building

jsalman@bradenton.comAugust 10, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Officials at DooleyMack Constructors vow their company remains viable despite a laundry list of financial problems tied to its original founder.

The company's chief executive William Dooley has lost a building that houses DooleyMack's Florida headquarters to foreclosure, along with a number of other real estate ventures totaling upwards of $25 million, court records show.

But DooleyMack officials say the construction company is -- and always has been -- a tenant in the 25,080-square-foot office building at 5800 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., which is owned by one of Dooley's separate companies not directly tied to the construction arm.

And although the facility is now owned by SunTrust Bank, DooleyMack continues to operate as usual, albeit drastically scaled back from two years ago. The firm is in no immanent danger of closing, said Chuck Evans, DooleyMack executive vice president.

"As bad as it is for Bill Dooley, who has been a substantial pillar in this community for 35 years, it's unfortunate," Evans said. "He's involved with real estate that just didn't pan out. That has nothing to do with DooleyMack."

The commercial contractor has tackled projects ranging from the $22 million Van Wezel face lift to 2,500-square-foot renovations at corner strip malls.

Like many in the industry, sinking demand for new commercial space has gobbled up revenues at DooleyMack, which once stood as one the largest builders in the greater Tampa Bay area.

The company made $104 million in gross revenue in 2010, the most recent figures available. That was down 22 percent from the year before.

The company has trimmed the workforce at its Lakewood Ranch office from 75 to 35 in the past two years alone, Evans said.

To align with the times, DooleyMack also has downsized its office space within the Lakewood Ranch facility, which it now shares with a foreclosure assistance center run by the University of South Florida.

SunTrust won a $4.2 million foreclosure judgment on the building against companies registered to Dooley earlier this year. The bank took ownership of the Lakewood Ranch facility last month.

Evans declined to speculate on DooleyMack's future should it be forced to move when the building is resold.

He says the company has held a lease since the facility was built in 2003, sharing it with other tenants. Evans could not provide the specific terms.

"It's a tough time to be in the construction industry as we all know," he said. "We have tried to right-size to get things in prospective with the amount of work we have. Hopefully things will turn ... We're still accepting new projects."

Although new home building has been accelerating for much of the year, the commercial sector has failed to keep pace.

Now facing many of the same problems as housing in its doldrums, an overabundance of deeply-reduced distressed commercial space has kept a tight grip on values, making new projects largely unfeasible.

"We're still seeing the effects of the recession," said Charles Wilson, owner of Wilson Construction Co. in Sarasota. "That's just a sign of the times. Even though things are starting to rebound, it hasn't gotten to commercial yet -- especially the larger jobs. That business doesn't exist, so what do you do?"

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service