In 2001, Scott Fink took a gamble and decided to open a Hyundai dealership in New Port Richey. At the time, Hyundai did not have the best reputation for dependability, and accounted for about three of 100 every new car sold.
Since then, Hyundai has become one of the most popular overseas brands in America, and Fink has expanded his car empire to include Hyundai, Mazda and Chevrolet dealerships in Wesley Chapel, and a planned Volkswagen dealership on State Road 56 across from Mini of Wesley Chapel.
So what does Fink have up his sleeve on land next to his proposed dealership? He’s not talking — he didn’t return a call for comment from The Laker/Lutz News — but it’s now a $1 million gamble.
S&D Giant Real Estate LLC, a company, which lists Fink as its sole manager, closed on nearly 1.6 acres of land on State Road 56, just off Silver Maple Parkway on Aug. 26. The price was $1 million, something that might appear like a steep price for vacant land. But it’s a $400,000 discount from what Ethan Allen Retail LLC paid for the property in 2006, according to Pasco County property records.
Ethan Allen, a Connecticut-based furniture chain with locations in Citrus Park and Brandon, had announced in late 2005 it would build an 18,000-square-foot showroom on the site. It was supposed to open in 2006, and compete with the less-expensive Rooms To Go that opened down the road on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
However, the housing market crashed, and couches that cost as much as a semester at the University of South Florida simply were no longer in demand.
Unlike the Lowe’s on State Road 54 near Land O’ Lakes Boulevard, Ethan Allen never resurrected its plans to build on the site, despite holding the land for nearly a decade. A spokeswoman for Ethan Allen confirmed to The Laker/Lutz News on Monday that the project was indeed dead.
“I believe that the new use will be automotive,” Ann Zaccaria, vice president of real estate for Ethan Allen, said in an email.
In his annual report filed last June addressing the entire Cypress Creek development of regional impact area that includes this parcel, Skinner Bros. Realty president A.C. “Chip” Skinner III did not mention the pending sale to Fink. He still listed it as a closed sale to Ethan Allen, where 18,000 square feet of retail rights are still planned.
Fink is under contract to buy more than 5 acres of land immediately to the southeast of the parcel, where he plans to build a Volkswagen dealership complete with a nearly 30,000-square-foot showroom.
The lot Fink has closed on still is set for a retail store, but it’s not clear if that’s what he still plans to do, said Dawn Sutton with Pasco County’s planning and development department. No new paperwork for the site has been filed with the county.
“There is an agreement for (the Volkswagen parcels) for up to 46,000 square feet of retail entitlements,” Sutton said. “That’s probably a 22,000-square-foot building plus maybe a car wash, and some supporting retail.”
Land proposed for the Volkswagen dealership has yet to change hands, but if Fink’s purchase of the adjacent land sets a new precedent, then he could spend more than $6 million for the adjacent lot once that deal finally closes.
Published September 24, 2014
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