Laura Layden, firstname.lastname@example.org; 239-263-4818Published 2:04 p.m. ET Feb. 13, 2018 | Updated 3:40 p.m. ET Feb. 13, 2018
David Hoffmann oozes his love for — and faith in — Naples.
It's why his company, Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate, headquartered in Chicago, has become the city's largest commercial property owner and landlord.
"We just think it's one of the most wonderful places," Hoffmann said.
In a little over two years, the real estate company has amassed a collection of more than 20 properties in the Naples area, valued at more than $300 million. Most of the buildings are clustered around Fifth Avenue South or Third Street South.
The buying spree isn't over, with more properties under contract.
"We plan to have 30 buildings by the end of the year," Hoffmann said.
Whether it's day or night, Fifth Avenue South has shops, restaurants and some activities that would be great for a date. Lauren Kummer
That's not all: David Hoffmann — founder and chairman of Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate — and his son, Greg, the firm's chief executive, have grander plans, including bringing more entertainment to downtown Naples.
The Hoffmanns are also buying up local businesses as they see the opportunity to grow them.
Their five-year vision for downtown Naples includes attracting a high-end movie theater and a quaint, six-lane bowling alley, as places for adults to hang out.
"We would love to see a high-end luxury women's spa down here, and that's because my wife wants one," David Hoffmann said.
The Hoffmanns want another boutique hotel downtown, which they hope will happen with the redevelopment of the long-vacant Third Street Plaza, where owners Anne and Charles Camalier III have proposed building a 118-room hotel.
"It's a great vision. We'll help them in any way we can for that to happen," David Hoffmann said.
Father and son, David, right, and Greg Hoffmann of Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate, stand outside their offices in downtown Naples on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News)
Since 2015 the Hoffmanns have helped attract two high-end restaurants to their buildings: The French and Sails.
The company has kept most of the tenants that came along with its buildings, and there are few vacancies.
Rick Rinella recently joined Hoffmann's team as president of restaurant development in Naples. He's an experienced restaurant manager, who last worked at The French, which debuted on Fifth Avenue a little over a year ago.
"We will continue to attract high-end restaurateurs into our buildings in Naples when the space becomes available. We may buy interests here in restaurants that are in our buildings," Rinella said.
Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate purchased this property at 360 12th Ave. S., as well as property at 350, 370 and 382 12th Ave. S., in downtown Naples, adding to its collection of more than 20 properties in the area. Seen here Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Photo: Luke Franke/Naples Daily News)
As other tenants choose to leave, the Hoffmanns hope to bring in global luxury brands of the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
"That's our biggest problem," David Hoffmann said. "We don't have any vacancy."
The company has taken over and enhanced the executive suites that came with two of its buildings, with plans to expand the co-working concept on Fifth, to take it to Third Street — and to grow it nationally.
The real estate firm has hired Madelene Columbus to drive the expansion of the new venture, known as Hoffmann Executive Suites. She previously worked as an area manager for Regus, the world's largest shared office provider, in Southwest Florida.
There are already executive suites at 649 Fifth Ave. S. and 405 Fifth Ave. S. In a few months they'll open at 365 Fifth Ave. S. above The French restaurant.
"It can be individual offices," Columbus said. "We can tailor-make the configuration to fit the business that's coming in, and we also offer virtual offices, conference rooms and meeting rooms and administrative services."
Her goal is to create a professional yet relaxed and inspiring atmosphere, offering high-end private and shared offices under monthly or long-term payment agreements.
For the Hoffmanns, the real estate purchases in Naples are long-term investments made for the family, including grandchildren.
Father and son David, right, and Greg Hoffmann, of Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate, in their offices in downtown Naples on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News)
"We are redevelopers and long-term holders of real estate," David Hoffmann said.
Going forward the Hoffmanns won't just expand their local reach through real estate investments. Since January they've purchased two local companies — and a third could soon be acquired.
The family bought Sunmaster of Naples, a 30-year-old company that designs and manufactures custom canvas awnings, metal gates and screens for storm protection and security. The purchase presented an opportunity to extend the "family's mission to invest in solid and proven business models in the Naples community," David Hoffmann said.
The acquisition will give Sunmaster the opportunity to expand nationally, while allowing the Hoffmanns to speed up improvements at their buildings.
The Hoffmanns have also added Adelheidi's Organic Sweets of Naples to their holdings. The company sells gluten-free and organic food, including crunch mixes, pizzelle cookies and gelato.
David Hoffmann and his wife, Jerri, came across the Adelheidi's store on Fifth Avenue South during a stroll, stepped inside and fell in love with the food. The Hoffmanns want to help founders Marion and Jens Schuppenhauer realize a dream to bring their food to the world market.
The investment from the Hoffmanns will enable the Schuppenhauers to pursue opportunities to franchise and to expand their reach to include grocery stores.
"It's a huge opportunity for us, and we are really happy to join the Hoffmann family group," Marion Schuppenhauer said. "It's an exciting thing for us."
The Hoffmann enterprises could have a few hundred employees in the Naples area by the end of the year if all of the planned business acquisitions happen.
Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate operates as a division of Osprey Capital LLC and has a diverse portfolio that includes dozens of properties in multiple states.
Pettit Square at Old Naples on 14th Avenue South is one of two properties recently acquired by Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate. (Photo: Submitted)
David Hoffmann founded Osprey Capital, a private equity firm, in 2002, with interests that range from executive search and real estate to aviation and wine-making. The company has a presence in 27 countries, with more than 100 locations that span the globe.
It has been about four years since David Hoffmann and his wife started coming to Naples regularly. How did they discover the city?
"You know we're from Chicago," Hoffmann said. "I think half of the population in Chicago has a place in Naples."
Now a year-round Naples resident, he can be found driving and walking often on Fifth and Third, taking the pulse of what's going on. He loves the restaurants, especially the fried bologna sandwich at The Bevy.
"I've gained 15 pounds," he said. "I keep outgrowing my pants."
The senior Hoffmann has no intentions of retiring or slowing down anytime soon.
"It's just fun," he said. "I love to work. I'm not a very good golfer. You can ask my friends."
Since relocating to Naples in 2016, he and his wife have gotten involved in the community. They recently became trustees of the Naples Children & Education Foundation, which raises millions for needy children annually through its Naples Winter Wine Festival. He serves on the board for Artis—Naples, and she sits on the board of the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District.
The Hoffmann presence has been felt downtown. The company has improved on parking, upgraded its buildings inside and out, and added a statue walk on Fifth Avenue.
Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate is starting new initiatives to ease parking in downtown Naples, including opening parking lots and adding more valet stands. Parking options are pictured in downtown Naples on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News)
The statues on their property — roughly 10 and counting — have become popular spots for photos, which warms David Hoffmann's heart.
"I love seeing people getting photos taken with our sculptures," he said. "That's just a hoot for me."
Phil McCabe. (File Photo) (Photo: Greg Kahn/Naples Daily News)
Naples hotelier and developer Phil McCabe, a major property owner credited with jump-starting the city's downtown redevelopment efforts many years ago, said he likes the improvements the Hoffmanns have made to their buildings and the surrounding streets.
"I'm all for improvements," he said. "It's wonderful the artwork that they've introduced to Fifth Avenue. It was at their cost."
McCabe would love to see a bowling alley and a movie theater downtown, he said, as well as another upscale hotel, which have been talked about for years.
"Bring on the change," he said. "I'm all for it, but I just want good change, quality change, change with good planning, good connectivity inour community."
At a Glance
Properties Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate has acquired in Naples:
305 Fifth Ave. S.
365 Fifth Ave. S.
375 Fifth Ave. S.
405 Fifth Ave. S.
625 Fifth Ave. S.
630 Fifth Ave. S.
640 Fifth Ave. S.
649 Fifth Ave. S.
680 Fifth Ave. S.
780 Fifth Ave. S
898 Fifth Ave. S.
900 Fifth Ave. S.
360 12th Ave. S.
382 12th Ave. S.
375 13th Ave. S.
292 - 296 14th Ave. S.
393 Broad Ave.
271 Broad Ave.
90 U.S. 41 N.
80 - 90 First Ave. N.
950 First Ave. N.
990 First Ave. N.
The firm also owns land at 403 Fourth St. S., where it plans to build residential condominiums.
For more information: hoffmanncre.com/properties