Town looks to purchase Amore Restaurant for $2.2 million

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The Town of Longboat Key is looking to increase its land holdings on Monday when it considers buying the Amore Restaurant property for $2.2 million. The restaurant and the 2.01 acres it is situated on are owned by Howard Rooks who said the town approached him with an interest in the purchase.

Rooks has signed the contract and the commission if it agrees on Monday, the closing will occur on or before March 31, 2017.

The property, located at 555 Bay Isles Parkway, is adjacent to the 2.8 acre property the town purchased in 2014 for redevelopment into an arts, cultural and education center. The town paid about $2 million for that property, and the proposed purchase of the Amore Restaurant site would bring the total land available to almost 5 acres for a new center.

Town Manager Dave Bullock wrote to the commission, “This would greatly enhance the functionality of the project with significantly improved access to the site, the ability to ensure ample parking, increased open space and additional opportunity for outdoor venue areas.”

The town has been working with the Ringling College of Art and Design to partner in the future arts center.

Rooks said he is “Very emotional,” about the idea of selling the restaurant, which he bought for $1.2 million a little more than 10 years ago.

The Amore Restaurant was opened by Rooks in 2014, and has a 150-seat dining room, a 50-seat lounge and bar area and a 50-seat outside patio dining space. Rooks said there are about 175 parking spaces on the site, and he has invested in completely outfitting the restaurant as well as the cost of carrying the building and several renovations.

Rooks says that his emotional attachment emanates from the comments and support he hears most every night from diners and residents as well as his “love of the staff.”

There is a possibility, said Rooks, that if it sells, he may relocate the restaurant if he can find the right location. He refers to the restaurant as difficult in the long summer months, but feels that “Amore is the prettiest building on the island.”

Bullock informed the commission that two appraisals have been obtained and the value has been posited at $2.3 million.

Under the terms of the contract, an escrow deposit of $50,000 must be paid within three days of approval, which will be on Monday if a supermajority, or at least five of the seven commissioners approve.

Bullock said that funds for the purchase, if approved, will come from the town Land Acquisition and Improvement Fund, which has a current balance of $2.762 million. The town commission will consider the purchase at its 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 workshop meeting in Town Hall.


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