Lakewood Ranch strip-mall deal worth $7.35 million

mjohnson@bradenton.comJune 13, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A privately owned Orlando property investment company has purchased part of a nearly new mall off State Road 70 in a multimillion dollar property deal.

Unicorp National Developments spent $7.35 million May 28 to buy a section of strip mall at River Club Plaza, a retail development at the southeast corner of the State Road 70 and Interstate 75 intersection. The seller was Columbus-based Casto, according to county property records.

For the money, the buyer acquires about 4.8 acres with more than 29,000 square feet of retail space at 5770 Ranch Lake Blvd. Tenants in the mall include Amscot and Popi's Place On the Ranch.

The mall is adjacent to a Walmart Supercenter. Walmart owns its 22-acre property at the plaza.

The purchase gives Unicorp its first toehold in Manatee County. The company owns about 80 retail properties around the nation. In Florida, the bulk of its holdings are in Orlando.

Charles Whittall, Unicorp's president, said the company is seeking retail properties or sale and buying them for its portfolio. It places an emphasis on newer properties or those that have yet to be developed. Unicorp tends to hang on to properties long term, Wittall said, often 10 years or more.

Unicorp bought into River Club Plaza because it appears to have a bright future in a growing area.

"We thought this was a good retail center," Whittall said.

During the first year under Unicorp's ownership, the mall properties will be managed by Casto. Unicorp will handle management after that period.

The deal was a private sale between the two companies.

Casto officials did not respond to several requests for comment on the sale. Through the same subsidiary that sold to Unicorp in late May, Casvak River Club LLC, Casto still owns about 25 acres on Ranch Lake Boulevard, according to county property records.

Additionally, Casto is planning to build 180,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial and residential space at its planned University Groves development on University Boulevard, according to its website.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.

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