Ave Maria’s founder is selling a substantial land holding in North Naples.
Tom Monaghan, the chancellor of Ave Maria University in the planned 5,000-acre town with the same name in eastern Collier County, will sell a 59-acre site at Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard in North Naples. An Ave Maria official, Paul Roney, said the land is currently under contract to a buyer and is in the due diligence phase. Roney declined to name the buyer or the price, but said he hoped the deal would be completed within the next year.
The property was rezoned from agricultural land to a commercial and residential mixed-use development last June. Redevelopment plans call for residences, 175,000 square feet of commercial development and a 150-unit assisted living facility. No construction has occurred on the site.
“After the rezoning, the decision was made to move forward and sell the property,” Roney said.
The rezone increased the property’s assessed value to “just above $9 million,” according to Kevin Lilly, senior tax roll analyst with the Collier County Property Appraiser. Monaghan purchased the land in May 2002 for $5.7 million.
The property is in the name of “Tree Farm Land Trust,” which lists Monaghan as its sole owner. Tree Farm Land Trust is not affiliated with Ave Maria University or town, according to Roney and a vice president at Barron Collier Cos., the town’s co-developer with Monaghan. Proceeds from the sale will go toward the university and town, but the dollars haven’t been earmarked for a specific purpose, Roney added.
Roney, who’s acting as Monaghan’s agent for the Tree Farm property, holds many titles at Ave Maria entities. He’s executive director of the Ave Maria Foundation, the charity established by Monaghan, chief financial officer of Ave Maria University and is one of five board members on the government of Ave Maria town.
The decision to sell the 59-acre property is the second major real estate move for Monaghan-affiliated organizations in recent months. In April, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Ave Maria School of Law announced it was moving to the 12-acre Vineyards property in North Naples, which was the temporary location for Ave Maria University before it began operations in eastern Collier last August. The law school will lease that property from the university, which had been trying to sell it. Monaghan founded both the law school and the university and sits on both boards, but there’s no institutional connection between the two.
The Tree Farm property is the only major site the former Domino’s Pizza magnate has for sale among his large holdings, including those in Monaghan’s former home state of Michigan, Roney said.
“There’s nothing of significance for sale other than this,” Roney said.
There is some connection between the Tree Farm property and Ave Maria lore. At speaking engagements, Monaghan often refers to a 2,560-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard that was the original planned site for Ave Maria University in Southwest Florida. Monaghan had a deposit down on that property, but during the due diligence phase a bald eagle’s nest appeared, which could have subjected development to a host of environmental regulations. Monaghan asked for extra time and then Barron Collier Cos. swooped in with its offer of land in eastern Collier. Monaghan took that deal in spring 2002.
Around the same time, Monaghan purchased the Tree Farm land at the northwest corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard.
“We thought it was a good investment in the long term for what was going on in that part of Naples,” Roney said.