MANATEE -- The owner of a 53rd Ave. E. strip mall in Manatee County cashed in on an improving retail property economy this month when he sold Cedar Plaza for a profit.
Also benefitting will be customers of the restaurants and retail businesses in the mall, who could see up to three new businesses fill vacancies there. The mall is also expected to get an upgraded look from a remodeling program undertaken by the new owner.
Doing business as Cedar Plaza Investments, Manatee County resident Michael Sporer sold the 28,000-square foot mall on March 1 to 3102 53rd LLC, a Sarasota company owned by Ron Wolf. The $3.48 million selling price is about $900,000 more than the Cedar Plaza Investments paid for the property
The mall is about a block east of State Route 301.
Built in 1993, Cedar Plaza is home to 12 businesses, including a Richard's Foodporium, Pizza Hut, and Woody's Bar-B-Q. According to the property manager, Susanne Stovall of ICORR Properties International, the building has 5,700 square feet of space available for lease. The company will renovate the strip mall throughout 2014, she said.
Wolf, who owns commercial properties in both southwest Florida and Ontario, Canada, owns both 3102 53rd LLC and ICORR.
While Stovall said her company is not yet ready to announce what sorts of renovations it will be doing, at least one business manager at the shopping center has some ideas. Steve Paul, manager of Richard's Foodporium at Cedar Plaza, said his store's red sign is difficult to read, both on the marquis out front and on the building. He doesn't know whether his company or the center's owners will pick up the tab for a change, but he said new signs will bring more customers.
"I think our sign needs to pop out more," Paul said. "We get people in here all the time who don't know we're here."
The sale comes at a good time for Sporer. He is currently developing an assisted living facility in East Manatee.
Even though selling Cedar Plaza is good news for him, Sporer said he will miss owning and managing the property.
"Its harder than you might initially think to let it go," he said.
Cedar Plaza provides services to nearby residents in a business district that is anchored by national retailers Wal Mart and Sam's Club.
"The tenants serve the immediate neighborhood, Stovall said.
Stovall said Wolf is acquiring neighborhood strip malls averaging about 35,000 square feet in high traffic areas. Cedar Plaza fits his buying profile. Wolf's southwest Florida portfolio is made up of six retail centers, and the One Sarasota Tower office tower in downtown Sarasota.
ICORR manages two other Bradenton retail properties, Gateway to the Ranch East and Gateway to the Ranch West strip malls. Totaling 25,000 square feet, the properties are on State Route 70 at the north end of Lakewood Ranch.
Rino Investments, the company that sold the mall to Sporer, paid $3.1 million for Cedar Plaza in late 2002.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.com