Tuesday, August 02, 2005

East Manatee rural land to become retail

Herald Staff Writer

EAST MANATEE - Developers plan to develop more East Manatee range land into expensive homes and turn a rural intersection a few miles away, where a roadside peanut vendor formerly held sway, into a substantial commercial center.

Mike Tringali and his development partners closed a $34.2 million sale deal Friday on the 1,144-acre Rusty Pot Ranch, on Clay Gulley Road in the Myakka City area.

The new owners are calling the project Steeple Chase. The residential community, off sparsely populated Clay Gulley Road, will feature about 210 equestrian-oriented, five-acre lots, somewhat like East Manatee's Panther Ridge, but pricier and more upscale.

Homes will start in the $750,000 range and soar well past the $1 million mark. The low-density development will sit just northeast of Myakka River State Park.

The land deal is part of Tringali's continued efforts to expand his development presence locally after relocating from Atlanta in 1998.

Tringali is also building Golden Verna Estates, comprised of about 80 homes and about 90,000 square feet of commercial near the Verna Bethany Road intersection with State Road 70, to include professional and medical office space, restaurants and retail as well as a gas station and convenience store.

That site previously was the place of business for a long-time roadside vendor selling boiled peanuts.

There has been some resistance from residents there about commercial development and higher-density residential development, Tringali said.

People need to get over the idea that Manatee and Sarasota counties shouldn't change, he said. Sitting in his office, Tringali points to a county map that shows that once University Parkway is extended to connect with S.R. 70 and Verna Bethany, his development will be in a prime position to serve the needs of many commuters passing through.

Larry Mau, the county's transportation director, said the extension will likely be funded and built in the next 10 to 20 years.

"I know people don't want to hear it, but there's nowhere to build west. People are coming. We can't stop them," Tringali said.

Susan Estler, who has lived off Verna Bethany for 13 years, prefers her quiet, rural setting, but said she and her neighbors understand that there's not much anyone can do about the onslaught of new residents and new homes.

"I think everybody realizes that growth is inevitable and commercial development is inevitable," Estler said.

The No. 1 request from existing residents is that developers and county officials continue to set aside pockets of open, green space, she said.

"You have those people who want to not see any change whatsoever," Estler said. "I think that's human nature that you move somewhere for a reason, and like it.

"As long as open areas are still available, people understand that that's going to happen."

Tringali has a number of other projects in the works.

He owns 449 acres with an option for 40 more just south of Lakewood Ranch and just north of the Founder's Club in Sarasota. He's planning a 1,300-home development with about 200,000 square feet of commercial space near Lakewood Ranch's Sarasota Village project. Tringali expects the land to be developed in about two years and built out in five years.

In addition to Steeple Chase and Golden Verna Estates and Sarasota Lakes Village, Tringali is planning to develop and build St. Ives Northwest - a 29-acre, 29-home private, gated community in northwest Bradenton at 9400 9th Ave. N.W. All 29 homes will exceed the $1-million mark, he said.

Tringali is also building Portofino on the Bay - a 20-home community on Sarasota Bay featuring two- and three-story Mediterranean-style homes, some with boat slips.

Matt Griswold, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 708-7908, or at mgriswold@HeraldToday.com.

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