“Ghostly” Landings Shopping Center to be sold at foreclosure auction

| January 1, 2017

Several parcels in the plaza could be sold Jan. 24

Roger Drouin

The Landings Shopping Plaza could have a new owner by the end of January. And with that change in ownership, some potential changes could come to the plaza that has been plagued by vacant storefronts. Those changes could include retrofitted retail spaces and new businesses filling them.

In 2015, a mortgage company filed a foreclosure suit against the owner of the several parcels within the plaza that total about 93,000-square feet of commercial space. According to the lis pendens suit filed in December, 2015, the Plaintiff, U.S. Bank, National Association, as trustee for Morgan Stanley Capital Inc., instituted the foreclosure filing against owner, Michigan-based Landings of Sarasota Florida LLC. A total of at least three parcels within the Landings Shopping Center were included in the foreclosure suit.

In the latest development, in November, at an online auction, the lender sold the mortgage note on this portion of the plaza, Aaron Kantu, an executive for Ten X, a commercial real estate transaction platform, told Siesta Sand. Now, the property itself is slated for sale at a county online auction on Jan. 24, 2017, according to 12th Judicial Circuit court documents.

There will likely be a lot of interest in the property, says Ron Flynn, a commercial realtor with Key Solutions Real Estate. Due to the plaza’s location close to The Landings, Siesta Key, and other residential areas, and the high-visibility location on the South Trail, the property offers significant potential, said Flynn, who is not involved with the sale but often shops at the plaza. Other pluses of the plaza include plentiful parking and convenient ingress and egress from U.S. 41.

But “it has to sell at the right price,” adds Flynn. “And it just might, since it is going for sale through auction.”

A new owner will want to purchase the commercial property at a realistic offering because of the costs associated with foreclosure properties, such as legal fees, and likely investment in retrofitting the property, such as re-doing the interior spaces, to enhance the plaza, Flynn said. An auction sale would likely result in a lower sale price, than a traditional sale on the commercial market. In addition, a lower price could also allow a new owner to consider the option of renting the retail spaces at a lower rate that could be viewed to retailers as more competitive with other, nearby commercial rents.

A large portion of the plaza could change ownership, but several parcels are not impacted by the foreclosure suit or the pending auction. The free-standing buildings near the shopping center — including Sweet Tomatoes and Olive Garden — are separately owned and were not impacted by the foreclosure proceedings. In addition, the parcel that houses the Publix grocery space, 4840 S. Tamiami Trail, is also separately owned, by Publix Super Markets Inc., and thus was not impacted by the proceedings.

The shopping center is located on U.S. 41 just outside The Landings, and neither the plaza nor its owner Landing of Sarasota Florida LLC is affiliated with The Landings or LMA in any way.

A “Ghostly” plaza

Beginning several years ago, several spaces within the plaza became vacant. In 2015, the 30,171-square-foot anchor Office Depot shut its doors in the 28-year-old shopping center.

Bill Whitman, president of The Landings Homeowners Association, Inc., says he saw empty storefronts and heard about other problems at the plaza about three years ago, and saw a “drastic” rise in vacancies about a year-and-a-half ago. “It’s ghostly,” he says of the plaza now.

“We would like to see a new owner come in, and clean it up,” Whitman said. “We would all like to see the Landings Plaza thrive.”

Whitman says many Landings residents, both seasonal and year-round, have been loyal shoppers, but are saddened by the rise in vacancies, and an upgraded space could bring an uptick in customers again. Whitman said perhaps another restaurant, to compliment Gecko’s, would be a nice addition to the plaza.

Flynn, the commercial realtor, said those involved in any transaction would likely research potential businesses that could fill the empty spaces in the plaza and fill a demand. Flynn said a luxury dealership, such as luxury cars or a boat dealership could fit.

Other potential local retailers looking for a specific square footage could be interested in the Landings Plaza. Successful stores downtown, or in nearby storefronts, that have outgrown their retail spaces, for example, could also be interested in the Landings Plaza, Flynn noted, especially once the space is retrofitted.

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