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Date of Issue: July 19, 2007

Local businessmen want 'Old Florida' preserved

In what may ultimately turn out to be the biggest financial undertaking of his life - and possibly the most expensive - Anna Maria businessman Ed Chiles along with Pine Avenue resident Mike Coleman have formed an investment company to buy Pine Avenue properties and restore or develop them as two-story, retail-office-residential structures that would retain the “Old Florida” charm of the city.

The two have quietly signed purchase contracts on 15 properties along Pine Avenue and six on North Bay Boulevard at the Pine Avenue intersection. Their plan is to renovate the developed properties or build new ROR units, but without a third floor. The first floor would be retail space, while the second story would be residential. The structures would all be less than 30 feet in height, not the 37-foot-high, single-family residences that can presently be built in the ROR.

“There will be no three-story structures in our plans,” emphasized Chiles, who said he and Coleman have been talking for several months on how best to preserve Pine Avenue from unsightly development. Few Anna Maria residents really care for the appearance of the three-story residences built on the site of the former Island Marine on Pine Avenue, Chiles noted.

“Mike and I were concerned about the potential loss of the old-style residences along Pine Avenue. I think the two-story, Old Florida look is what planners had in mind when they laid out the city in 1911. We want to re-do Pine Avenue in the historical Anna Maria style.”

But the 21 properties under contract have a steep price. Chiles and Coleman have about 90 days to complete their purchases and Chiles is looking for other investors.

“We have a lot of money to raise to make this a reality,” said Chiles. “But we believe this is the look that the residents want on Pine Avenue.”

The feedback he and Coleman have received in the community has been nothing but enthusiastic for the idea, he indicated.

Normally, said Chiles, he’s the type of investor who wants to “buy and hold,” but that’s not the case with the “Lucky 21” properties. Purchasing and developing the properties is going to take a lot more resources than those of just he and Coleman.

“We’re already begun talking to investors,” Chiles said. “We’re hoping news of this reaches the European market and investors with Eurodollars or British pounds. This is a great investment opportunity for them because of the favorable exchange rate, and they would be getting Anna Maria real estate at a fair price.”

Chiles said that anyone interested in joining the investment corporation should contact him at 941-778-8700.

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