A legacy,10-parcel piece of real estate, much of it fronting the Caloosahatchee River and near downtown Fort Myers, sold for $20 million. It eventually will be redeveloped by an investment group.
Joe’s Crab Shack, the Legacy Harbour Hotel & Suites, the 131-slip Legacy marina and the other businesses in between will continue operating as usual in the short-term, said Phil Fischler of Fischler Property Company, which helped broker the deal. It closed on Dec. 30.
NRIA, a New Jersey-based development company, made the purchase. It could spend between $175 million and $225 million on redeveloping the properties. NRIA could not be reached for comment on its timetable but was working on a news release regarding the purchase.
“We know they’re a top-quality, well-capitalized, national developer,” Fischler said. “They’ve done projects in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the West Palm Beach area. They have a strategic plan to develop projects in Florida.”
Five of the parcels are on the southeast side of West First Street, including a fenced-in grass lot and a house fronting Bayside Parkway.
The 4.7 acres are zoned for 37,685-square feet of commercial, up to 352 residential units, up to 25 stories and a parking garage.
A trust sold the properties, which were assembled in the 1990s and early 2000s by the late Haywood Sullivan, a former Boston Red Sox catcher and later a part-owner of the team. He turned a $200,000 investment of a part-ownership stake into a $33 million buyout, which he used to acquire the Fort Myers properties.
Sullivan died in February 2003 at age 72. Since then, the land had been owned by a family trust that included Marc Sullivan, himself a former Red Sox catcher.
“We would really like to honor Haywood Sullivan,” said Paige Rausch, a friend of Sullivan’s and a real estate consultant with Aslan Realty Advisors. She was not a part of this deal, but she expressed enthusiasm for it finally getting done. “It took almost 20 years to take that vision of Haywood Sullivan. He was so popular and well-liked. He was just a great guy. Now, we’ll finally get to have something more than just a very old, two-story motel from back in the day. It’s time. It’s time to do something really great with that.”
Steve Cunningham, with Cunningham Realty Advisory Group of Fort Myers, talked a lot about timing with this deal. He brokered part of it along with Michael Curran of Fischler’s group.
“I’ve been working on that property, on and off, for 20 years or more,” Cunningham said. “You get properties like this, it’s one of a kind. It’s time wasn’t in the past. It’s time is now. It’s more of timing, timing, timing. The properties were well-maintained by the Sullivan family. This was the premiere property in downtown.”
Curran said the location made this one attractive.
“It was Haywood’s baby, if you will,” Curran said. “It just hit the right market at the right time. We started looking at this in early 2021 again. It had been on the market for the last three or four years with various brokerage groups. We knew the Sullivan family. We had talked to this buyer back in May, and we’ve just working ever since then.
“It’s a beautiful property. I think it’s a great location, right by the park and the River District and West End and the Publix. And it ties all together with historic downtown. That will just make that whole section remarkable.”