$8 million buys phase two of The Concession
By HAROLD BUBIL - Sarasota Herald-Tribune
MANATEE COUNTY - Amid a rebound of luxury home sales in Southwest Florida, a local investment group has spent just under $8 million to take control of vacant land planned as a second phase to the tony Concession golf course community east of Lakewood Ranch.
Buyer Concession 113 LLC is headed by Vanguard Land Co. founder John Peshkin and also includes Kevin Daves, Concession's developer.
The group effectively acquired the land by negotiating with Wells Fargo Bank, whose predecessor, Wachovia, had filed a foreclosure lawsuit in July 2009 against a Daves-led group over repayment of a $22 million loan.
"Now we can really go and get aggressive about getting more homes out there," said Daves, who is also a co-developer of the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota resort. "We are very fortunate that we were able to negotiate a deal and then get a debt-free partnership."
Concession 113's purchase comes amid a resurgence of high-end residences in Southwest Florida in 2012.
Last month, for instance, 38 homes in Sarasota and Manatee counties priced at $1 million or above were sold, records show. In October, another 41 homes priced at seven figures traded.
Peshkin's group paid seller Concession Land Development LLC $7.9 million, or about $69,900 per lot, for 113 vacant lots, according to Manatee County records.
Whether the renewed luxury market is strong enough to carry Concession's second phase -- in which just four houses have been completed -- remains to be seen.
Concession 113 will also have to compete against home and lot sales in the upscale development's first phase, which contains more than 100 home sites and roughly two dozen completed homes. Roughly one quarter of those lots are owned by the family of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, who also designed The Concession's award-winning golf course.
Builders signed up
But Peshkin and Daves are already optimistic enough that they have lined up a half dozen luxury builders.
The six builders include John Cannon Homes, Anchor Builders, John Neal Homes and Arthur Rutenberg Homes/Derek Nelson. The second phase also already contains infrastructure such as streets and utilities, which will allow construction to proceed at a faster pace than many new developments.
A sales team led by Keller Williams' Mark Bruce has been tapped to sell the lots in Concession's phase II. Bruce will also be marketing for sale the Nicklaus lots in the project's first phase, Daves said.
The Concession deal marks the second major purchase this month for Peshkin, the former chief executive officer of then British-based homebuilder Taylor Woodrow N.A., which is now known as Taylor Morrison.
A Peshkin affiliate also recently spent $5.7 million to acquire 545 acres in Venice and Nokomis that previously was owned by deceased homebuilder Jacques Cloutier.
For Daves, the acquisition marks a somewhat triumphant return to the Concession, which he developed in the real estate boom days of the previous decade.
After much initial fanfare, including being named "Best New Course" by Golf Digest Magazine, the development fell on hard times beginning in 2007, as the region's real estate market collapsed.
In July 2009, Wachovia filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Daves' Concession Golf & Residences' development company, saying it has failed to repay a $22 million loan. But the bank did not seize the phase II land within the 1,200-acre development near Lakewood Ranch, allowing Concession 113 to negotiate a purchase of the unpaid debt.
Also in 2009, Daves sold The Concession's 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and 33,000-square-foot clubhouse for $2.55 million to a group led by Pittsburgh industrialist Bruce Cassidy Sr.
Lawsuits in common
And while the Concession 113 team may seem an odd pairing, Peshkin and Daves share a history. Both men sued Taylor Woodrow in the mid-2000s.
Peshkin, who had been head of the company's North American operations, had sued for breach of contract and tortious interference. He eventually settled with the company.
Daves claimed the home builder was part of a group, including Ritz-Carlton co-owners Bob and Dan Buford, which cut him out of a lucrative deal to develop the Ritz-Carlton Beach Residences.
Daves ultimately won a multimillion jury award in the case, which was later settled with an undisclosed payment.
Herald-Tribune reporter Michael Braga contributed to this report.