Gulfshore Playhouse plans to build state-of-the-art theater and education complex

From Naples Daily News

In this file photo, general technician intern Megan Navia works the lighting board during the Gulfshore Playhouse's tech rehearsal of the play "The Who and the What?" at the Norris Community Center in Naples in April 2016. Gulfshore Playhouse plans to build a state-of-the-art theater and education complex in downtown Naples.

In this file photo, general technician intern Megan Navia works the lighting board during the Gulfshore Playhouse’s tech rehearsal of the play “The Who and the What?” at the Norris Community Center in Naples in April 2016. Gulfshore Playhouse plans to build a state-of-the-art theater and education complex in downtown Naples. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/Special to the Daily News)

Gulfshore Playhouse plans to build a state-of-the-art theater and education complex in Naples.

The not-for-profit professional theater group announced Tuesday it has signed a purchase agreement for three acres of land at the corner of Goodlette-Frank Road and First Avenue South for the multimillion-dollar project.

The land is within the borders of Naples Square, a mixed-use project that’s under development by The Ronto Group in partnership with Wheelock Street Capital.

The land purchase is expected to close in mid-August.

With the new theater Gulfshore Playhouse will be able to produce a broader season, with more musicals, new works and content created for Broadway.

The project is possible because of a $10 million donation from well-known Naples philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker, who are longtime supporters of Gulfshore Playhouse.

After the land purchase closes, Gulfshore Playhouse expects to launch a fundraising campaign to help get the rest of the dollars needed for construction, as well as money to partially cover the first year of operations.

The cost to build the project is estimated at $45 million, including the land, said Kristen Coury, the theater group’s founder and producing artistic director.

The Wisdom Of Solomon

From the Business Observer

Anthony Solomon stands in front of Naples Square, one of the company’s best-known residential projects. Although it specializes in luxury high-rises, Solomon’s Ronto Group has also developed large, single-family communities such as TwinEagles and Heritage Greens, both in Collier County.

Anthony Solomon stands in front of Naples Square, one of the company’s best-known residential projects. Although it specializes in luxury high-rises, Solomon’s Ronto Group has also developed large, single-family communities such as TwinEagles and Heritage Greens, both in Collier County.

Ronto Group President Anthony Solomon is very clear on what his company’s mission is, and should be.

“We’re opportunistic,” says Solomon, 42, whose father, A. Jack Solomon, founded the company in 1967 in Toronto. “We don’t live by growth goals, and we don’t do deals for the sake of doing deals.”

Nevertheless, Ronto Group these days is flush with the kind of upscale residential projects for which the company has come to be known.

There’s Seaglass at Bonita Bay, a 120-unit, 26-story condo tower in Bonita Springs that is under construction and slated for completion later this year. To date, more than 60% of its units — all priced at $1 million and above — have been sold.

There’s 624 Palm, an 18-story condo tower in downtown Sarasota that is also under construction and scheduled to be completed this summer. The $20 million-plus project, where the 17 residences cost in excess of $2 million each, is sold out.

There’s Naples Square, a 300-unit, phased residential development in the heart of Naples’ downtown with more than 150,000 square feet of commercial space that is scheduled to be completed by 2019. At present, Ronto is nearly sold out of the project’s second phase.

“We’re finding there’s great demand for high-end units, especially in Naples, Bonita Springs and Sarasota,” Solomon says. “And partly, that’s because we think we understand what it takes to get customers who are willing and able to spend $2 million, $3 million and up. There has to be a level of trust there. Customers want to know that you’re going to be able to deliver on the dream they are banking on, and we do that. It’s what our reputation is based upon.”

But Ronto Group has also excelled at single-family communities, often those with golf course amenities, such as its TwinEagles project in North Naples, which it acquired as part of a lender workout in 2010.

In the years since, Ronto has redesigned a golf course to complement the Jack Nicklaus-designed, award-winning Talon links, added amenities like a resort-style swimming pool and fitness center, and enhanced walking paths and neighborhood parks.

Ronto also decided to provide a golf membership to everyone who bought a newly constructed home in the community by Lennar Corp., Minto Homes, Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Stock Signature Homes and Divco Custom Homes.

The strategy worked. In 2015, sales topped $135.6 million, prompting the developer to introduce three new neighborhoods. Today, five of TwinEagles neighborhoods are sold out.

“Their success stems in part because they were very early to the table in securing unique properties and opportunities before the market showed clear improvement a few years back,” says Randy Thibaut, founder and CEO of Land Solutions Inc., a Southwest Florida commercial real estate brokerage firm that has worked with Ronto Group.

“They take big, but educated, risks and they’ve paid off, and their relationships and access to capital has been integral in their ability to get deals closed.”

The company also developed Lindsford, in Fort Myers, a gated, step-up community where D.R. Horton is building, and Orange Blossom, a 1,600-home, similarly priced Lennar project in Naples.

“We don’t want to be relegated to extremely high-end developments,” Solomon says. “I don’t want us to be pigeonholed. If the right opportunity for an entry-level or move-up project surfaces, and it’s the right opportunity, we would certainly do it.

“But we’re very cautious by nature, and we look for the right opportunity and the right price and the right timing,” he says.

Such a triangulation occurred earlier this year, when Ronto and Wheelock Street Capital, of New England, paid $15.1 million to acquire a nine-acre site at 1075 Central Ave., in Naples.

Solomon says Ronto is designing a project that will likely contain more than 200 residential units and a smattering of retail space. Sales could begin next year.

The site, where the Naples Daily News operated until 2009, attracted Solomon because it reminded him of Naples Square.

“The units may be a little smaller, and less expensive, but the site is very walkable to Fifth Avenue, and you’re not going to find nine acres come available very often in the heart of Naples,” he says.

After developing more than 10,000 condos and 2,000 single-family home sites, Ronto Group knows what it doesn’t want to be and where it doesn’t want to build, as well.

It refuses, for instance, to engage in bidding wars even for prime properties.

“We’d rather have an opportunity to properly study a market and sit down with someone and work out a deal,” Solomon says.

The company’s boundaries also extend to geography.

“I have no desire to develop in the Caribbean, for instance,” Solomon says. “Sure, it sounds sexy, but one mess, one disaster and it takes your whole bandwidth to fix — you end up getting pulled away from other projects, other opportunities,” Solomon says. “I’ve seen it happen to a lot of really smart people.”

He’s also content to remain focused on coastal Florida in places like Naples, Bonita Springs, Sarasota, Boca Raton and Palm Beach — though he would entertain a deal in Tampa or St. Petersburg if it was right, too.

“I don’t have any visions to go, say, to Denver,” Solomon says. “You hear a lot of Florida developers say they want to go out West to places like that. But the way I see it, they already have developers out there. They’re on top of it, and things here need constant minding.”

To maintain focus, Ronto Group maintains a staff of 13 employees, some of whom have worked for the company for decades, though it also relies heavily on consultants who Solomon says are “like family.”

Looking ahead, Solomon doesn’t foresee the kind of turbulence that derailed the real estate growth cycle in 2008. He believes buyers are self-regulating, and banks are being appropriately more reserved about to whom they lend money.

“Buyers are being more cautious; they remember the last go round,” he says. “That’s been good for us, because people know our reputation. And banks aren’t lending to anyone, especially for high-end residential, that doesn’t have experience.

“Prices, meanwhile, at the high end, have leveled off, and that’s a good thing,” he says. “I think as a result we’ll see a steady few years ahead.”

The TwinEagles Club to Host 2018 Chubb Classic

Naples, Fla. – Marking its 31st year in southwest Florida, Chubb Classic officials announced today the 2018 event will take place February 12 – 18. As the longest-standing PGA TOUR Champions event in one metropolitan area, the 2018 Chubb Classic will once again take place at The TwinEagles Club for its seventh consecutive year and 12th year overall hosting the legends of the PGA TOUR in Naples, Fla.

“Hosting an event of this scale for over a decade has been an honor for The TwinEagles Club and The Ronto Group,” said Andrea Bach, General Manager of The TwinEagles Club. “The event allows us to represent our community offerings on a local and national scale, which draws new residents and members every year. On top of that, our club will always be proud to support an event that has brought golf’s greatest legends to Naples for 30 years. We look forward to another successful year in 2018!”

In its 30 years in southwest Florida, the Chubb Classic has attracted many of the game’s greatest players. From inaugural champion Gary Player and the late golf legend Arnold Palmer, to past champions Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer – the Chubb Classic looks forward to inviting the legends of the PGA TOUR back to The TwinEagles Club in February of 2018.

2018 Venue:
The TwinEagles Club
11725 TwinEagles Boulevard
Naples, FL 34120

The Ronto Group and Wheelock Street Capital Buys Prime Downtown Naples Land

Naples, Fla. (February 10, 2017) – A piece of vacant downtown property, formerly home to The Naples Daily News, was purchased on Thursday by The Ronto Group and Wheelock Street Capital, a private real estate investment firm based in Greenwich, Conn and Boston, MA.

The 8.8-acre parcel is located at 1075 Central Avenue, between Goodlette-Frank Road and 10th street and is zoned for 212 residential units and commercial space.

“We are very excited to continue the natural extension of downtown Naples. We understand how important development in this area is for the City, continuing the connection of downtown to the new Baker Park and the 10th street corridor,” said Anthony Solomon, Executive Vice President and Owner of The Ronto Group. “Over the next several months we’ll be carefully evaluating the residential market in order to fine tune our offering. We believe this is the last site of this scale in the downtown area. The walkability of the area and revitalization in the 10th street corridor makes this a very exciting opportunity. With the success of Naples Square, it’s evident that buyers see the value and convenience of this location”, said Solomon.

Ronto and Wheelock previously partnered on the development of Naples Square, just a few blocks away as well as Seaglass at Bonita Bay and Echelon on Palm in Sarasota. Ronto is also currently developing TwinEagles, Orange Blossom and Lindsford and in the past completed other Southwest Florida projects such as Hideaway Beach, Palmira, Forest Glen, and The Shores at Gulf Harbour, visit www.Ronto.com for details.

Wheelock was formed in 2008 by Jonathan Paul and Rick Kleeman, two veteran real estate private equity investors, each with over 20 years of broad real estate transaction experience across all major asset classes. The firm is currently investing its fifth fund and its third multi-investor discretionary opportunity fund, which consists of $725 million of committed capital. Wheelock’s first two funds were primarily funded by a single private institutional investor.

For more information, visit the Company’s website at www.wheelockst.com.

Ronto Meeting Housing Needs Across All Market Segments

During its 40-year history, The Ronto Group has developed numerous award-winning communities in Southwest Florida.  The firm is solidifying its legacy by creating housing opportunities across market segments ranging from luxury high rises and golf course communities catering to wealthy retirees to amenitized communities and apartments for working families.  Ronto has recognized the confluence of factors that are reshaping the housing market.  Foremost among them are the need for workforce housing; the influx of working families, empty nesters, and retirees; and housing choices that are priced beyond the means of many people.

“Southwest Florida is known as a place with luxurious gated golf course communities and condominium towers,” said Ronto Executive Vice President Anthony Solomon, “and while we may consider homes in the $400 to $500,000 range to be inexpensive, the average price of a home in the U.S. is less than $300,000.  Our area’s $400 to $500,000 homes would be considered expensive in many parts of the country.  We believe there is great opportunity in developing choices for those who can’t or don’t want to spend that much on a home and still want to enjoy what Southwest Florida offers.  We also see housing diversity as critical to regional economic growth.  We may not be able to create single-family opportunities in the $200’s, but reasonably priced apartments, townhomes in the mid-$200’s, attached villas in the high-$200’s and low-$300’s, and single-family homes starting in the mid-$300’s can certainly be a win-win.”

Ronto completed the leasing of 332 new one, two, and three bedroom apartments at Colonial Commons at Colonial Boulevard and Winkler Avenue in Fort Myers.  The community filled the need for new rental apartments that offer workforce housing.  Amenities include three lakes, a clubhouse with a Cyber Café, yoga studio, club room, resort-style pool, sand volleyball court, bark park, 24-hour fitness center, children’s play center and park, game room, outside kitchen with a lounge area and controlled access gates.

On Winkler Avenue Extension, Ronto and D.R. Horton are developing Lindsford, a mix of 936 single-family homes, twin villas, and townhomes.  Single-family homes are priced from $255,000, twin villas from $224,000, and townhomes from $178,000.  Amenities include a resort-style pool, spa, tennis courts, clubhouse, fitness room, basketball courts, bocce courts and a tot lot playground. Other amenities include a fishing pier, locker rooms, a card and social room, and a catering kitchen. Next to the fitness room is an indoor children’s play area.

Ronto is developing Orange Blossom, a community situated on Oil Well Road near Immokalee Road in North Naples designed to provide working families with a fully amenitized, affordably priced gated community alternative within Collier County.  Orange Blossom is situated adjacent to elementary, middle, and high schools.  A Publix is being built nearby and retail development is gaining momentum.  Ronto is developing new home sites and will be offering townhomes, twin villas, and single family homes.  Pricing will range from the low $200’s to the $500’s.  In addition to a clubhouse with a fitness center and catering kitchen, Ronto is adding an amenity package unrivaled at the community’s price point, including two resort-style pools, a grassy area, chickee style shade pavilions and beach chairs, tennis courts, bocce ball courts, sand volley ball, basketball courts, an oversized gym, a fishing pier, and a stunning new entranceway.

Ronto has purchased the remaining 111 home sites at Valencia Golf & Country Club at Randall Road and Immokalee Road in North Naples.  The majority of the 60-foot sites offer golf course and lake views within a fully amenitized community.  Ronto anticipates residences will be priced in the $400’s.

Phase II of Ronto’s Naples Square community at 5th Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road in downtown Naples is scheduled for completion in first quarter 2017.  The community’s walkable lifestyle is bringing a sense of cohesion to downtown by connecting 5th Avenue to Bayfront with access on 10th Street via 3rd Avenue South.  Ronto is accepting Phase III reservations.  Eight Phase III floor plans ranging from 1,460 to 3,238 square feet are base-priced from $695,000.

In September, 2010, Ronto assumed the role of developer at TwinEagles, a golf-centric gated community in Naples.  After completing millions of dollars in enhancements, including the Talon golf course and the addition of the award-winning Eagle course, Ronto built a recreation center that includes a 2,500 square foot pool and a sunning deck.  A Tiki lounge and dining venue and lighted Har-Tru tennis courts are adjacent to the pool.  A fitness center includes aerobics and yoga areas, and a fitness hall with state-of-the-art equipment.  Ronto included a golf membership with every newly constructed home that is attached to the home and transfers.  Carriage homes, single-family, and estate residences are priced from the $200’s into the millions.

Ronto’s 120-unit Seaglass high-rise tower is under construction within Bonita Bay.  With various membership opportunities, the amenities of the Bonita Bay Club will be available to residents, including a 60,000 square feet Lifestyle Center, five championship golf courses, tennis facilities, a full-service marina, numerous dining venues, a residents only private beach park, and on-property hiking and biking trails.

Ronto has started construction of its 18-story Echelon on Palm high-rise in Sarasota that will feature fifteen 4,155 square foot full-floor residences, one 3,079 square foot half-floor residence, and one 4,381 square foot two-level townhome.  All but two of the residences have sold.  Amenities include a fitness center, yoga terrace, a clubroom, pool area with a spa, fire table, and a roof top terrace.