New Lakewood Ranch maintenance facility getting a tenant

jbartolone@bradenton.comJanuary 15, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Operations staff members won't be the only ones using the new $2 million maintenance facility that opened this month in Lakewood Ranch.

Supervisors are set to sign off this week on a lease agreement to allow Down to Earth Lawn Care, the master-planned community's landscaping vendor, to lease space at the facility for more than $1,000 a month in rent, which will help reduce district operating costs. The facility grand opening and ribbon-cutting was Jan. 9.

Down to Earth will use about a half-acre, or 15 percent of the property at 15207 59th Ave. E., not far from the Lakewood Ranch U.S. Post Office and the Premier Sports Campus. The company will use a construction trailer for storing and staging equipment, personnel and materials with its own rear entrance to the property.

The Mount Dora-based company took over the landscaping contract for Lakewood Ranch in 2012, replacing Garden Leaders, despite protests by the former vendor over the bid process. Its trailers with the company's green logo featuring a tree can be seen loading or unloading mowers throughout the Ranch

on any given day.

Lakewood Ranch's Inter-District Authority and its five community development districts are expected to vote to authorize an inter-local agreement for the lease later this week.

"All the rest of the districts as well as the IDA have some type of interest in the property, whether it be through the non-exclusive lease and operating agreement ... with the fact that the IDA actually owns the dirt. So we felt this was the best way to do it and get the consent of all the districts and the IDA and have everybody agree to have the costs and revenues be assigned," said Scott Rudacille, IDA attorney.

Lease terms have Down to Earth Lawncare II LLC paying $1,070 per month in rent, plus an additional $400 a month for common area maintenance and about $50 per month for utilities. Lakewood Ranch can terminate the lease with 60 days notice, Rudacille said.

Lease revenue will be distributed to districts based on size and number of residential units. The lease would run through September 2016 and includes several automatic renewals.

Lakewood Ranch officials spent years planning and building the new state-of-the art maintenance facility, which features an electric car-charging station and is resistant to winds of up to 150 mph. The operations staff previously worked out of leased space at the Lorraine Road campus of the Pinnacle Academy, which needed the land back for expansion.

Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor, can be reached at 941-745-7011. Follow him on Twitter @JasonBartolone.

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