OUR POSITION: News that Private Equity Group sold most of its interest in Murdock Village to another company is not bad news. It’s just news.

So, it turns out Private Equity Group is a flipper.

That is not shocking news to anyone in the know. But, for the casual observer in Charlotte County, it was probably a little stunning that a company that invested a couple of years of planning and obtaining permits would sell.

We think it’s just business, maybe not business as usual, but business.

The new owner is Kolter Land Partners, a development firm based in Palm Beach County according to a Sun story by Garry Overbey. The one negative thing we see in this deal is the ability of PEG, which was carefully vetted by the county before any papers were signed, to sell to someone we know little about. It almost feels like the county was played.

Should there be some sort of clause in a contract of this magnitude, allowing the county to be involved in a resale, or to demand the buyer retain the land for a certain amount of time? Obviously, the county did not believe so. And, perhaps, this is just how these deals are done.

Nevertheless, it appears Kolter is well suited for this type of development. The company has experience turning out new communities of 2,000 or more homes in Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties — so they know the area and its potential.

PEG kept 42 acres of the land for commercial and multi-family development. That is a sign the company believes in the project — unless, of course, there is another buyer looming.

The best news of all, and an indication how long this deal was in the works, is that “bulldozers are on the ground.” That is according to Jim Harvey, president of Kolter Land Partners.

Harvey explained that to better market the property required a name change to West Port. That name came up after it was decided West Port Charlotte was too long. Now all they have to worry about is people getting it confused with North Port.

Meanwhile, Kolter will go about turning its 400-of-so acres into a hub of housing and commercial property that was the vision of county commissioners more than a decade ago.

According to Overbey’s story, the master plan includes single-family homes and multi-family apartments surrounding North Charlotte Regional Park and a new recreation center that will open this fall. An aquatics facility and an Olympic-sized pool is being built next to the center. And, there is always the Lost Lagoon water park development that is still planned for the middle of the whole community.

We find no fault with the vision. Hopefully the new homes and apartments will ease the county’s housing shortage and provide lower rents — although there have been no promises of low-rent housing. It only makes sense, however, that an influx of hundreds of new housing units will lower demand and force rents down in other areas of the county.

There are other pluses too. All this construction will mean new jobs. And, as trees fall and a community takes shape, it will be easier for the county, PEG and Kolter to lure new businesses to West Port.

We see nothing bad about PEG’s sale — something it was always entitled to do, according to its contract with Charlotte County.

Now, let’s get some houses built.


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