Chasing the Northern Lights

By Kevin McQuaid, Business Observer

Over the course of the last decade, especially, The Ronto Group has established itself as one of the premier residential developers in all of Southwest Florida.

From its home base in Naples, the company has developed a trio of well-received, single-family home communities such as the 1,600-home Orange Blossom in Naples; TwinEagles in North Naples; and Lindsford in Fort Myers.

It has also exceled at vertical and urban developments, like the mixed-use Naples Square project in downtown Naples, with 300 total residences and 150,000 square feet of commercial space; and Seaglass at Bonita Bay, a 26-story condo tower with 120 luxury residences in Bonita Springs.

But while the company has worked within a tight geographic cluster in Southwest Florida, there are signs that Ronto Group is expanding its reach northward along the Gulf Coast.

In Sarasota, the company is putting the finishing touches on 624 Palm, an 18-story condo tower with 17 luxury residences downtown, a project it began in 2017 that is its northernmost venture to date.

And now, Ronto Group has unveiled plans for a 22-story condo project in South Tampa.

Altura Bayshore, at Bayshore and Bay-to-Bay boulevards, is being designed for 73 residences priced from $1 million to more than $2.9 million.

Ronto Group says it will offer a “maintenance-free lifestyle” with on-site amenities like a rooftop swimming pool with cabanas, a social lounge and outdoor grills; private elevators, pickle and bocce ball courts; a fenced dog park and a putting green.

The site also is in close proximity to a variety of restaurants and entertainment venues and is a short drive from Tampa’s downtown.

“We really zeroed in on the Bayshore area because the views and the surrounding area are so great, it’s an established neighborhood with a great history and it’s a short bike or car ride from downtown,” says Anthony Solomon, Ronto Group’s owner. “It checked all the boxes for us.”

Solomon notes, too, that Altura represents a unique opportunity in the Bayshore area.

“There are barriers to entry there,” he says. “There are truly not many sites in Bayshore that can be built out without rezoning being necessary.”

But Altura faces stiff competition from a series of upscale condo projects planned for Tampa.

Downtown, Strategic Property Partners plans to include 400 condos in its 815 Water St. project; Feldman Equities and Two Roads Development are proceeding with nearly 300 condos in the planned 53-story Riverwalk Place; and a joint venture between Ascentia Development and Batson-Cook Development are moving ahead with a 34-story tower called Arris Tampa, set to contain 80 residences.

Each will be priced with residences in a similar range to Altura’s units.

Solomon says he believes Altura’s location and amenities will separate it from the competition.

“Our project will offer a more active lifestyle,” he says. “It’ll have a little different take and a location in an established residential area that people have long been drawn to.

“I think we’ll have a subset of buyers who will be focused on staying near Bayshore,” Solomon adds. “The competition is obviously something that we’ll have to keep an eye on, but I really see the other projects as a benefit. More begets more, and if downtown becomes a more exciting place that helps us.

“Our residents will be happy to go downtown but then they’ll also like the idea of a three-minute Uber or car ride back to Bayshore to their residence.”

Solomon also points out that the move into Tampa was more “opportunistic” than strategic.

He notes that Ronto Group is moving ahead with eleven eleven Central, a new 62-unit condo tower in Naples, and Omega, a 69-unit luxury tower in Bonita Springs on the last developable site in the tony Bonita Bay neighborhood. There, units will be priced at $3 million and above. Ronto Group hopes to break ground on Omega next year.

The company also has roughly 300 home sites left to offer in its other communities in Southwest Florida.

“We’re still very active in the region,” Solomon says. “The move into Sarasota or Tampa isn’t a reaction to any saturation in Southwest Florida.”

Developer plans 22-story luxury condo tower

By Business Observer

TAMPA — Naples-based Ronto Group on Wednesday revealed plans for Altura Bayshore, a 22-story, 73-residence luxury condo tower it intends to build at 2907 S. Ysabella Ave., near the intersection of Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards — a sought-after location in south Tampa.

Tampa architecture firm Curts Gaines Hall Jones designed the project, which will boast six penthouses and an elaborate rooftop lounge and pool area. According to a press release, residences will range in price from $1 million to $2.9 million and offer views of Hillsborough Bay to the east and south Tampa to the west. Each unit will have private elevator service.

“The Bayshore area is so beautiful and is just a few minutes from the downtown area that is undergoing an amazing renaissance, with exciting sports, arts, entertainment and so much more,” Ronto Group owner Anthony Solomon states in the release. “More people now want the maintenance-free lifestyle of a luxury condominium while staying in the mix — just a quick bike ride, walk, drive or Uber ride to shops, a game or the finest restaurants.”

Altura Bayshore’s residences will range in size from 2,176 to 3,575 square feet, the release states.

Ronto’s past projects on the Gulf Coast include 624 Palm in Sarasota; Paramount at Gulf Harbour; the Shores of Gulf Harbour; Forest Glen Naples; Key Marco and Hideaway Beach on Marco Island.

When It Comes to Condos, Tampa Is No Miami

By Paul Owers, CoStar News

Miami’s condominium market is prompting concerns about overbuilding in South Florida, but the outlook in Tampa on the state’s west coast is more upbeat.

Florida has been one of the nation’s top markets for multifamily construction in recent years, with builders focused on rentals in many of the state’s largest population centers, including Tampa Bay. But metropolitan Miami, a widely watched market nationally, appears to be one of the only areas in the Sunshine State with high levels of condo construction, analysts say.

While condo developers have been building in Miami ever since the housing bust ended in 2011, leading to a glut of units for sale, development in Tampa largely has been restrained, said Anthony Solomon, owner of Ronto Group, a Naples, Florida-based development firm.

Ronto is preparing to test that Tampa market with a 22-story luxury tower. Altura Bayshore at 2907 S. Ysabella Ave. is about two miles south of the revitalized downtown that includes the $3 billion Water Street Tampa, one of the largest mixed-use developments in the country.

Unlike many projects in Miami with hundreds of units to sell, this will feature just 73, Solomon said in an interview. And while Miami has relied heavily on foreign investors in recent years, the Tampa market is more stable with buyers who tend to want primary residences, he added.

“When you see the difference, it’s eye-opening,” Solomon said of the two Florida markets. “If we’re talking to foreign buyers, they’re from Canada, and this is their home. That gives us a lot more comfort.”

Altura Bayshore units will range from 2,176 to 3,575 square feet and be priced from more than $1 million to $2.9 million. The average price will fall between $1 million and $2 million, according to Solomon. Residents will have water views of Hillsborough Bay on one side and of South Tampa to the bay on the other side. They will be within walking distance of shops and restaurants, while the building will feature a rooftop lounge and pool.

Ronto plans to open a sales center in the fourth quarter and break ground once 35% to 50% of the units are under contract. Solomon expects a groundbreaking next fall and an opening in 2022.

Solomon is not the only developer who sees opportunity. Ascentia Development Group announced plans for a 34-story condo in downtown Tampa, and the firm also is building a 24-story project nearby. Two Roads Development is planning a 50-story condo in downtown Tampa that would be the tallest building on Florida’s west coast. Meanwhile, Water Street Tampa developers have said a second phase of that project could include condos, but for the most part condo development in the city has been modest, said Jack McCabe, a housing analyst in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

He noted recent stock market volatility, and said he expects a recession in the next year or so. But any slowdown likely would occur before Altura Bayshore is completed, McCabe said.

Solomon’s “timing is probably going to work out well,” McCabe said. “It’s a whole lot better to be breaking ground at the end of next year than it would be finishing construction. His big key will be, can he get the preconstruction sales during recessionary times?”

Solomon said he’s betting on a Tampa market that has been one of the top job-producing areas in the nation in recent years. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that Tampa Bay remains first among the state metropolitan areas in job demand. The Tampa area also retains its top ranking in the state for high-skill, high-wage science, technology, engineering and math occupations, the governor’s office said in a statement.

“Tampa is really coming into its own as a major metropolis,” he said. “It’s still affordable, but it’s getting more hip, more cosmopolitan all the time.”

Ronto has built condos and apartments in Naples and Fort Myers, Florida, south of Tampa. The 52-year-old company also is a land developer that has sold property to Lennar Corp., Pulte Group and other major homebuilders.

Despite the market conditions in South Florida, Solomon isn’t ruling out building in that area at some point.

“We probably should have bought [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][land in Miami] after the downturn,” Solomon said. “That’s my mistake. But we’re fully opportunistic. We will take a look at anything.”

For the Record: Curts Gaines Hall Jones Architects designed Altura Bayshore. Smith & Associates Real Estate of Tampa is the exclusive listing agent.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Another new condo tower planned near Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard

By Susan Taylor Martin, Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA — After more than a decade with no new condo towers, Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard area could soon be flush with them.

A Naples-based developer today unveiled plans for Altura Bayshore, a 22-story tower at Bayshore and Bay to Bay boulevards. That brings to four the number of condo towers announced in the past few years for one of the city’s prime waterfront areas.

“It’s really exciting to see everything happening in Tampa,” said Anthony Solomon, owner of Ronto Group. “It has great energy to it now and we think it’s a great time to be here.”

Solomon said his company’s project will be “a little different” from other new towers in size and price. Units will average around 2,500 square feet and range from the “low millions” to $2.9 million. That compares to larger units and top prices of around $5 million at Virage Bayshore, which is nearing completion, and the Sanctuary at Alexandra Place, where construction recently began.

Instead of a private penthouse on the top floor as is planned for Virage and the Sanctuary, Altura will have a rooftop amenity deck with pool, bar, grills and cabanas available to all residents. Outdoor facilities at ground level will include pickle ball and bocce ball courts, a fenced dog park and a putting green.

“It’s almost like what people find in a gated community in the ‘burbs but we’ll offer that downtown with a view,” Solomon said. All 73 units will have front-to-back floor plans so residents can watch sunrises over Hillsborough Bay and sunsets over South Tampa.

Ronto Group, which has projects in Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples and Marco Island, looked in the Tampa Bay area for 15 years before paying around $5 million last fall for what is now the parking lot of an office building. Solomon said he liked the site because of the proximity to both Bayshore and several restaurants.

“People are more and more looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle close to downtown with walkabilty,” he said.

The property originally was zoned for 175 units and 220,000 square feet; Altura will have 184,000 square feet and fewer than half as many units. Ronto Group plans to open a sales office in September and break ground late next year, with construction expected to take about two years.

Solomon said he isn’t worried about competition from Virage, the Sanctuary or Aquatica, another new Bayshore tower. Nor does he think Tampa’s condo market is getting overbuilt like some in Florida where investors and foreign buyers are driving up prices.

“The market (here) is not driven by flight capital or investment,” he said. “We know who our buyers are — they’re local people, retirees. They are buying because they live here and enjoy it. While everybody keeps a watch on what’s happening, we don’t see any precipitous shakeup.”