BRADENTON -- A Palm Beach County company specializing in health care real estate development has acquired the former Bradenton Herald building.
Bradenton Landco LLC, registered to Jupiter-based Rendina Cos., purchased the Herald building, 102 Manatee Ave. W., on Wednesday from 102 Bradenton MRP LLC, the company assigned by the McClatchy pension fund to handle real estate investments.
The 9-acre property and building sold for $3.362 million, said Elaine Lintecum, vice president of finance and chief financial officer of The McClatchy Co., parent company of the Herald. The property's assessed value is $4 million, according to the Mantaee County property appraiser. Proceeds will go to the McClatchy pension fund.
"It basically converts a real estate asset that the pension fund acquired several years ago to a cash asset that can be used to make further investments or to pay benefits, or as the pension fund advisory board decides," said James Bishop, president and CEO of WhiteStar Advisors, a real estate assets management company for McClatchy's pension fund.
The property attracted significant
interest, Bishop said. WhiteStar chose Rendina Cos. because of its ability to work through the deal, he said.
"I think they liked the central location and the size of the property," Bishop said.
Richard Rendina, chairman and CEO of the Rendina Cos., was traveling Wednesday and unavailable to talk about the sale.
Bob Turner, president and publisher of the Bradenton Herald, noted the Herald leased the building from the pension fund. The 10-year lease was for a $4 million aggregate annual rent paid to the pension fund.
"The purchase of this property from the pension fund is an indicator of the high degree of interest in the downtown area of Bradenton," said Turner. "It is an excellent location and a beautiful piece of property. We wish the new owners well and great success."
Redevelopment of the property could help the downtown vacancy rate for commercial space. According to the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp., the vacancy rate for office space in buildings larger than 10,000 square feet in Bradenton was 29 percent at the end of 2013.
Plans for property
A concept site plan was filed by Rendina Cos. last April to build a medical office park featuring a three-story, 55,000-square-foot medical office, showing Coastal Orthopedics' name atop the building. The plan called for removal of rare trees native to Florida on the land. A second phase of redevelopment where the Herald building sits was also part of the plan, according to the application.
A Coastal Orthopedics spokeswoman did not return a request Wednesday for comment.
The concept plan has not yet been approved by city staff. Tim Polk, director of planning and community development for Bradenton, said the city is concerned about the preservation of rare trees on the property.
The Herald building would be the first Rendina property on Florida's Gulf Coast, according to the company's website. Rendina has properties throughout the country, including many around West Palm Beach.
The Herald called 102 Manatee Ave. W. home since Oct. 3, 1984, when then-owner Knight-Ridder Newspapers opened the doors. From 1922-1984, the Herald was at 401 13th St. W. The media company moved in September to 1111 Third Ave. W in the Bradenton Herald Corporate Center.
Knight-Ridder sold the Herald to McClatchy in 2006, and the company then sold its building in 2011 to the McClatchy pension fund for $4.77 million as part of a larger strategy for McClatchy to fund required pension contributions.
The former 87,000-square-foot building cost former owners Knight-Ridder $16 million when it was built in 1983, amid a grove of rare trees on the former Kimball C. Atwood property. Atwood was a successful New York financier who helped pioneer Florida's grapefruit industry. A nature path with plaques about the trees was once planned, according to Herald archives, along with a citrus grove on the east side of the property. The building was also designed to have a third floor for future expansion, according to Herald archives.
McClatchy is a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of the stock closed at $5.96 Wednesday, down 37 cents.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.