Laura Layden , email@example.com; 239-263-4818Published 6:54 p.m. ET Feb. 13, 2017 | Updated 7:12 p.m. ET Feb. 13, 2017
The land the Naples Daily News called home for decades has sold — again.
The Ronto Group and Wheelock Street Capital have purchased the property at 1075 Central Ave., which sits vacant. The deal closed Thursday, but the purchase price has not yet been disclosed or recorded by the Collier County Clerk's Office.
Property records show the land last sold for $8.5 million in August 2014 to R&B Naples Holdings 3 LLC, whose principal was Jon Rubinton. The Daily News relocated to North Naples in 2009, and the old headquarters was demolished in 2010.
Rubinton and his co-owners bought the property from Scripps Media Inc., the former parent of the Daily News, which is now part of Gannett Co. Inc. The partners once planned to develop a mixed-used project called 1075 Central on the land, which spans a little more than 8.8 acres.
Rubinton could not be reached for comment about why the land was put up for sale. In a brief interview with a Daily News reporter last year, he said he was no longer affiliated with the project and didn't know what the owners were doing with it.
The property is zoned for 220 residential units, as well as commercial uses.
Anthony Solomon, executive vice president and owner of The Ronto Group, based in Naples, said his company has eyed the property for about a year. Acquiring the land was a logical next step, he said, with his company's nearby mixed-use community Naples Square doing so well and with the rejuvenation of the area with new restaurants, shops and an improved streetscape, which has spruced up Central Avenue.
Naples Square, off Goodlette-Frank Road near U.S. 41 East, will have nearly 300 residential luxury condominiums.
"We have a couple of buildings left to go. We are halfway sold through the project. We are doing well, so we are analyzing the market and what exactly we would bring to the market at Central," Solomon said.
While the new project might not be exactly like Naples Square, it will have condominiums, too. Price points haven't been determined.
The assessment to determine what to build may take six months, Solomon said.
"Maybe next season we will bring it on, but we are not exactly sure," he said.
The property was the largest available for residential development in the city's core, he said, making it extremely attractive. Most of the available sites are big enough for four to eight units, Solomon said.
"We're excited to continue developing in downtown Naples," he said. "We think it's really what people are looking for, a downtown lifestyle property."
Ronto and Wheelock have partnered on several projects along with Naples Square, as well as the Seaglass high-rise tower at Bonita Bay and Echelon on Palm condominium complex in Sarasota.
Wheelock is a private real estate investment firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Boston. A spokesman for the company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
When asked Monday about the sale of 1075 Central Ave., Naples Mayor Bill Barnett said he hadn't heard a word about it.
"It's probably a good thing, rather than it sitting vacant," he said.