BRADENTON — SevenShores, the luxury waterfront condominium project that has been dormant since the St. Joe Co. stopped its development in 2007, has been purchased by a Canadian-based company that plans to breathe life into the island property.
The 686-unit condo project, originally planned as 13 buildings fronting the Intracoastal Waterway, will be owned by Minto Communities LLC, a U.S. subsidiary of Canadian-based Minto Group, which is also developing homes in Lakewood Ranch’s Country Club East.
The purchase price, based on the deed’s documentary stamps, was $8 million for the project’s land and $2 million for the marina property. A former marina and high/dry storage has been torn down.
“It is an incredible piece of property in a great location,” said Michael Belmont, executive vice president for Minto Communities.
The Perico Island project is the company’s largest West Coast acquisition to date, Belmont said. A new name for the project has not yet been chosen.
Even though St. Joe was stymied by the bust of the housing bubble and the crash of the condo market, Belmont said Minto is in a good financial position to continue the project, beginning in 2010. Minto first plans some consumer market research to understand what consumers want in terms of price and livability.
“I know the market and this piece of property,” said Belmont, who was with Centex Homes in Sarasota for 10 years. “The (condo) market is not where it needs to be, but within a year I think the market will come back. We are looking at this as a long-term project. Its unique location makes it more attractive than other projects out there.”
Belmont said Minto has no intention of increasing the previously approved building height limitations or increasing the density more than what has already been approved.
St. Joe officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
About 75 percent of the infrastructure on the island has been completed, Belmont said. The company plans to complete the underground utilities and the roadways, and then begin the first of six or seven building phases.
“Prices are still challenging, so we want to come in at a price point in the low- to mid- $300,000s to start,” Belmont said.
In May 2006, St. Joe started presales in the $700,000s, but by December of that year it had slashed prices by $60,000 per unit. It received commitments on nine of 40 units in the first phase. It is unclear the status of those contracts. According to the Mid-Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service, the median sales price of the 89 condos in Manatee County that were sold in September was $126,000.
Tim Polk, director of planning and community development for Bradenton, said all the permits are still valid for the project.
“We need something to start coming out of the ground,” said Polk, who has spoken with the new owners. “That is the market you are seeing some traffic in now.”
If minor charges are made to the already-submitted plans, they can be approved by county staff. But if changes with greater impact are requested, the county commission will have to consider the requests, Polk said.
One change being considered by Minto is having the marina, once it is built, open to the public.
The company is also considering helping the county in building a park on 75 acres it purchased in 2007 on the eastern portion of the island called Perico Preserve. “We might get involved in that because we want to be a good neighbor,” Belmont said.
Minto also has an option on adjacent property owned by Manatee Fruit, he said.
“Over time, we will acquire the entire piece of property,” Belmont said of the 353 acres.