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Purchase puts Meals on Wheels, adult center near Lakewood Ranch

MANATEE -- A good deal on commercial office space near Lakewood Ranch is hard to find, but Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee did find one that it will use to expand its services to East Manatee.

Late last month, the Bradenton nonprofit bought a former children's daycare building on State Road 70 at a foreclosure price of $500,000. The purchase marks an expansion for Meals on Wheels Plus, which plans to relocate its Daybreak Adult Day Center to the building, as well as establish an East Manatee food bank drop off and a meal distribution and senior dining hub.

The building, which is located in the Spring Forest Office Park at 10920 SR 70, last sold in 2007 for $1.5 million.

First Federal Bank foreclosed on the property in 2013, according to Manatee County property records. It was initially listed for more than $600,000. Moving the day center to East Manatee will give it a greater reach into a community with a growing need for the program, said Kristen Theisen, the organization's chief development officer. Currently located in a building at 2703 19th Street Court E. owned by Manatee Glens, the program provides all-day activities and meals for adults who live with a caregiver. Caregivers can bring clients to the center for all-day or short-term respite care.

Theisen said the program currently serves about 50 people a day and has a capacity of 100 in its current location. In its new, 6,600-square-foot location, the center will be able to accommodate even more clients.

Although the program has been operating rent-free in Bradenton, Meals on Wheels Plus has been on the hunt for some time for a building that would better accommodate its programs.

"We've been looking for another location because the layout isn't ideal," Theisen said. "We have been wanting to move out east a bit."

The nonprofit is prepared for service demand fto increase in the Lakewood Ranch area as retirees who bought into the community in the 1990s reach an age at which they need more help to keep living

in their homes. Daybreak served 80 clients in 2013, while Meals on Wheels Plus delivered more than 205,000 meals over the course of the year.

Daybreak offers transportation services to the center from home and back again. The program charges $11 an hour for clients to use the center and its services. There is a separate charge for transportation.

Theisen said the building purchase comes at a good time for Meals on Wheels Plus. This year, the Manatee County Board of Commissioners approved $50,000 in renewable annual funding for the nonprofit.

Additional funds for the purchase and renovations at the new building will come from grants and Daybreak revenue.

Susan Goldstein, a Michael Saunders & Co. commercial Realtor who represented Meals on Wheels Plus in the property transaction, said the nonprofit got a "very good deal." In general, she said, even distressed commercial and office properties in the Lakewood Ranch area have been selling at market prices. The area has a limited inventory, but Meals on Wheels Plus was fortunate in that it could use the open floor plan in the former daycare building.

The property, which had been on the market for months, likely didn't sell sooner because it would have required significant work to be converted into a multi-tenant configuration, Goldstein said.

Daybreak will likely begin operating in its new location in January. Meals on Wheels Plus will remain headquartered at its current location, 811 23rd Ave E in Bradenton.

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

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