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Date of Issue: September 24, 2008

Pine Avenue vision becomes reality

The dream of Islanders Ed Chiles and Mike Coleman to keep Anna Maria’s Pine Avenue looking like old Florida continued to mature on Sept. 12 with the start of construction at 315 Pine Ave.

The two men joined forces during the summer of 2007 after watching construction of what they found to be undesirable “mega-mansions” on the site of the former Island Marine on Pine Avenue.

To preserve Pine Avenue’s character, Chiles and Coleman formed Pine Avenue Restoration LLC.

Along with investor and part-time Anna Maria resident Ted LaRoche, the company purchased 15 properties on Pine Avenue, including the six lots on the northwest corner of the Pine Avenue-Bay Boulevard intersection.

The investors determined that all projects would be designed with the “look and feel of old Florida and old time Anna Maria,” and be primarily retail-office-residential projects, rather than single-family homes, said Coleman.

The project at 315 Pine is the second effort by the company, with a third Pine Avenue project — Cozy Corners — almost ready for presentation to the planning and zoning board.

Coleman, who now has the title of project manager, was ecstatic that the dream of restoring Pine Avenue was under way.

"We are honored and pleased to be part of the dream begun back in 1911,” he said. “This is the first physical step in the restoration and revitalization of the charming little downtown that was envisioned but never realized by our founders,” he said

Ed Chiles added that “Anna Maria is 97 percent residential and only 2 per cent ROR (residential, office, retail. Mike and I feel strongly that one of the most critical threads in the fabric of any community is its small business district. Preserving that opportunity is an effort well worth undertaking.”

Central to the company’s vision is the conviction, gathered from private citizens, as well as appointed and elected city officials, that two-story, historic cottages best reflect the culture, heritage and nature of the city.

Although recent rulings allow for three-story, mixed- use in the district, the partners volunteered to maintain the low-profile architectural style that was clearly the preference of many seeking to maintain the “uniquely Anna Maria” nature of the street, Chiles said.

"Pine Avenue is our last, best hope to capture and preserve the legacy that is a big part of why so many of us have fallen in love with this community,” he said.

Future plans call for developing the Pine Avenue properties with historically compatible structures, housing first-floor boutique retail shops, with a residential floor on top, Coleman noted. Existing historic structures will be renovated whenever possible.

Partner Ted LaRoach said he was drawn to the company because the vision “will allow us to save some of the most historic buildings in the city.

LaRoche and his wife, Gloria, have maintained a home on the Island for many years. Both Chiles and Coleman agreed that the addition of LaRoche to the partnership brought critical business, legal and financial expertise to the project.

"Ted read about what we were trying to do, when we first went public with our plans before the city commission a year ago,” Chiles said. “He loves the quaint nature of Anna Maria and was impressed by our vision for preserving and enhancing its future. We feel very fortunate to have him as a partner.”

Sales and marketing will be done by David Teitelbaum and Alan Galleto from Island Real Estate.

An official ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony for the project will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, at the 315 Pine Ave. site.