LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The major partners in Keller Williams Lakewood Ranch, Paul Cornuke and Steven Dutoit, have purchased the former Neal Communities offices at 8210 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. for more than $1.3 million as part of a new venture.
Keller Williams is leasing the space and will move in beginning Thursday. The business partners purchased the building as Red Vette Ventures, LLC, drawing the name from Dutoit's prized 1967 red Chevrolet Corvette.
"I always like to pick a name that's cute," said Cornuke, who was dressed for work Monday, hammering along with construction workers as they completed renovations on the building. "I have the tool belt on as we speak."
They chose to purchase the building now because "we practice what we preach," Cornuke said. "It's the best time to buy so we felt this was a great opportunity, what with the timing of our lease expiring."
Red Vette Ventures is leasing the building to Keller Williams.
Neal Communities relocated to 5800 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., just south of University Parkway, said Leisa Weintraub, vice president of marketing for Neal Communities.
The majority owner observed that the real estate business seems to go in five-year cycles.
"This has been an extreme
ly long down cycle and we are having a great up cycle starting now," Cornuke said. "Agents are getting back into the business now because we are seeing the up cycle now."
The pair said they chose the location because of its central location and surrounding beauty.
"It has beautiful greenery and landscaping, yet you can walk across the street to Starbucks. It's heaven on Earth," Dutoit said.
The new location is big enough to house about 300 agents and to offer a place for companywide meetings.
"We always want to have a desirable place for people to work," Cornuke said. "We are almost fully occupied already. The majority of agents have a home office. We can provide an office atmosphere if they want to come in and check on the computer."
Dutoit said he was drawn to the nature surrounding the Lakewood Ranch building.
"There's 46 oak trees on the lot and a lake on the back of the property," Dutoit said. "The conference room looks out at this beautiful lake. There's a picnic area under the oak trees and we'll be setting up a barbecue grill for office events. The land is timbered and we are upgrading the landscaping. It's the kind of an environment where you go there and you don't feel like you're in a commercial space at all.
The current Keller Williams office is moving from the former John Cannon building on Professional Parkway, less than a mile away.
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024.