New York real estate firm buys former Mixon orange grove

cschelle@bradenton.comApril 24, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Land once proposed for a New Urbanist housing and retail development near Mixon Fruit Farms is now in the hands a New York real estate company after it was sold this month for $5 million.

John M. Ryan of Tampa-based Metro Development Group sold 21 parcels divided by Glen Creek to GTIS Partners for $5 million on April 10, according to land records.

Ryan's limited liability corporation, Mixon Ryan, has owned the land since 2006 when it was purchased from Mixon Fruit Farms for nearly $11 million as part of a proposed 1,378-home development called North Park.

Plans for North Park featured a mix of single-family homes, condominiums, open space, walking trails and a 12,000-square-foot village shopping center designed in a New Urbanism style similar to communities in Columbia, Maryland and Celebration, as the developer touted the neighborhood wouldn't feature cul-de-sacs. Metro Development wanted to start construction in 2007 and have the housing completed by 2010, according to Bradenton Herald archives, but that never happened in the midst of the Great Recession, much like many approved projects during that time.

Ryan would not comment on the land deal.

"We don't comment on business interests to the press," Ryan said by telephone.

A former land broker involved in the original Mixon sale said the property proved to be attractive at the time because of the city's low user fees compared to the county, and considered the $5 million

sale a good recovery for the $11 million spent on the recession-era deal.

The 230-plus acres covers from east to west 15th Street East to 27th Street East. The northern area moves along 15th Avenue East with the southeast corner covering 26th Avenue east, and the southern edge bordering 30th Avenue East.

Ryan's chief company Metro Development Group touts on its website that GTIS is one of its financial partners it often does business with.

GTIS is headquartered at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, and owns several properties in Florida including a BMO Harris Bank office building at 501 E. Kennedy Blvd., in downtown Tampa, Grimsley Ranch housing development in Tampa and 271 acres of undeveloped land in Cocoa, according to GTIS's website.

GTIS directed questions to its public relations firm Water & Wall Group. A representative from Water & Wall did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking comment.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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