By the numbers
The auction for the ailing shopping center – in front of the Bonita Bay golf community off U.S. 41 north of West Terry Street – begins Monday, July 16. Bids will start at $2 million.
The shopping center, built in 1998, has 47 units and sits on nearly 8.8 acres.
BONITA SPRINGS — The Promenade at Bonita Bay will be shopped around in an online auction.
The auction for the ailing shopping center – in front of the Bonita Bay golf community off U.S. 41 north of West Terry Street – begins Monday, July 16.
The sale will be handled jointly by auction.com and C-III Realty Services. Bids will start at $2 million, the auction website shows.
The website says that Matthew Rooney, an analyst with C-III Realty Services, is organizing property tours for interested buyers, but he couldn't be reached for comment.
The mixed-use shopping center, spanning 106,545 square feet, has continued to lose tenants and is only about 40 percent leased, not including spots occupied by local artists. The artists have been allowed to move into empty storefronts rent-free, in partnership with the Bonita Springs Art League.
The shopping center, built in 1998, has 47 units and sits on nearly 8.8 acres. Originally developed and owned by The Lutgert Cos., the property went back to the bank, court records show. A spokesman for the developer couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson said the auction has been a long time in coming for the shopping center, which has been in a downward spiral for years. Many factors conspired to hurt the center and its once successful businesses, including a bad economy and increased competition from the newer and bigger Coconut Point shopping center just down the street.
"The hope is that once it sells – hopefully at a reasonable price – people will be able to rent there at reasonable rates and we will be able to get some business back in the shopping center and some life back into the place," he said.
Rental rates have been on the rise, leading more businesses to flee the center in recent weeks. Among some of the businesses that have left the center over the past few years are Starbucks, Bennigan's and Chico's.
Nelson is convinced the shopping center's problems aren't insurmountable.
"I think everybody in Bonita Springs has high hopes for it," he said. "People are willing to shop locally in order to keep something nice."
Nelson said the center could easily transform into something different, if the city relaxes its rules on use changes for commercial property to spur economic development.
He said he could visualize the center becoming home to a corporation that would use it as a headquarters – or even a college campus.
Susan Bridges, president of the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, said she's not sure how a sale might affect the artists who have studios at the shopping center. She was unaware of the planned auction.
She said the arrangement at the Promenade has helped struggling artists, who like so many others, have been hit hard by a bad economy. On the last Thursday of the month, there are art walks at the shopping center to highlight the local artists with studios there. The walks includes music and food.
"They are aggressively marketing and leasing the space," Bridges said of the current owners. "If they do have someone who is interested in a particular space, they just let us know and the artists remove their things and they move them into a different space."
__ Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden