Updating building first priority, Brown says
Nancy Connelly, whose family owned the Crescent Beach Grocery property for about 70 years, has sold it to Chris Brown, owner of multiple businesses in Siesta Village, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
The $7.3-million deal closed on April 18, Sarasota County Clerk of Court records show.
Officially, the buyer was 1507 Main Street LLC. The Florida Division of Corporations says. Brown is the registered agent of the limited liability company, which was established in March 2019.
The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office put the market value of the Crescent Beach Grocery parcel at $2,910,500 in 2021. It comprises close to an acre.
Brown not only owns the Beach Club, but he also is the principal owner of The Hub Baja Grill, The Cottage, the Summer House restaurant and the MVP (My Village Pub) dining establishment, as well as Morton’s Siesta Market.
On April 12, chatter about the pending sale of Crescent Beach Grocery erupted on Siesta-related Facebook pages after an individual put up a photo of a letter announcing, “Crescent Beach Grocery is closing its doors forever!”
The letter added that, “after 19 years of serving the wonderful community of Sarasota, we have decided to retire …”
Formally, it was an invitation for an early opportunity to buy store inventory. “There will be prizes and low, low liquidation prices,” the letter pointed out.
“You’ll have first pick of all our merchandise, store fixtures and equipment,” it continued. “Everything must be sold and the doors closed forever in a few short weeks.”
Among the 105 comments on that post, individuals wrote about the convenience of the store and how good its deli was.
The site of Crescent Beach Grocery is zoned Commercial General. That is the same zoning as the parcels where four hotel projects have been planned on the Key.
That fact spurred speculation months ago — after the first two hotel applications won approval from the County Commission — that other commercial holdings might be sold to hotel developers. Just up the street from the Crescent Beach Grocery site, island businessman Dr. Gary Kompothecras plans a 120-room, seven-story hotel on Commercial General property.
As a result of lawsuits filed in November 2021, both Kompothecras’ project and an eight-story, 170-room hotel approved for four parcels between Beach Road and Calle Miramar remain on hold. (See the related article in this issue.)However, during an April 25 telephone interview, Brown told the News Leader that he hopes to work out a deal with a boutique grocer to take over the Crescent Beach Grocery space.
He has talked to a couple, he added. “We’ll find somebody.”
Brown also noted, “I’m not a developer. … I do not have an interest in redeveloping that site.”
Based on his research, he continued, he believes that the south end of Siesta has the overwhelming majority of short-term rentals on the island, given the number of condominium complexes in that area. “There is a definite need for a grocer,” Brown pointed out.
When the News Leader told him about Facebook posts bemoaning the loss of a grocery store in the area, Brown said, “That doesn’t surprise me.”
First, though, Brown plans to upgrade the building and its façade, he told the News Leader.
He also is working with the current tenants in the rest of the building on renewing their leases, he added. Among those are RE/MAX real estate offices and the Coconuts clothing store, which has been in operation since 1981, its website notes.
Referring to the Crescent Beach Grocery site, Brown pointed out, “These properties … don’t come up for sale very often.” One other facet of the parcel that he finds especially important, he said, is the 40 to 50 parking spaces. “That’s a big plus.”
Brown stressed the fact that the demand on the Key for parking spots is so high, having that many on one site is akin to finding a gold mine.
Brown also recently closed on the portion of the Avenida Navarra property where Siesta Dental is located, Sarasota County Clerk of Court records show. That transaction involved Jay Lancer, principal of 5221 Avenida Navarra Property LLC, the records note. The sale price was approximately $2,350,000, based on the documentary stamp tax on the deed.
The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s website had not been updated with the transaction prior to the publication deadline for this issue of the News Leader.
That parcel came with about 15 parking spaces.
Brown long has used a valet service for his restaurants in Siesta Village, which border Avenida Messina.