Think of it as a Four Seasons for your Ferrari, a Mandarin Oriental for your Maserati. Tucked away behind steely security gates and watched over by hi-def cameras, WheelBase Premium Garage Condos on the outskirts of Sarasota is perfect for protecting your Porsche or cosseting your Corvette.
This brand-new luxury car condo complex is a collection of 46 climate-controlled, 150 mph impact-rated garage units designed to provide a safe haven for cars and collectibles — and let owners have fun enjoying them.
Sizes range from a compact 674-square-foot space priced at $164,500 to a whopping 2,480-square-foot, 40-by-62-foot multi-vehicle unit that will set you back half a mill. So far, 15 of the garages have been snapped up.
Each comes with concrete-block construction, 20-foot-high ceilings and RV-friendly 12-by-14-foot motorized overhead doors. Each can be fitted out with everything from vehicle lifts to custom flooring. Every unit features a bathroom, air conditioning, a work sink and wifi as well as windows for natural light.
One feature most buyers are opting for: a loft-style mezzanine floor to furnish with comfy sofas, a big-screen TV, a kitchen and wet bar.
The campus also features a 2,000-square-foot private owners’ clubhouse with lounge, meeting/poker room, kitchen, shower and laundry, plus an 800-square-foot outdoor patio.
WheelBase is the brainchild of Sarasota neighbors Dennis Brozak and Hans Schmeits. Both passionate car lovers, they faced the problem of having too many toys and not enough places to park them.
“We knew there were plenty of other car collectors in the area with the same problem — living in luxury condo buildings with just a couple of parking spaces, or luxury homes with only a two- or three-car garage,” says Schmeits, whose eclectic car collection includes a 1968 Ford F-150 pickup, a classic Volvo and an electric Fiat 500.
“So we came up with the idea of a garage facility that would give them space and security.”
Together they bought a five-acre lot on Sarasota Center Boulevard, just north of Fruitville Road in the Lakewood Ranch area, and set about creating the 54,000-square-foot complex, envisioning a Fort Knox-style design with high walls, a tight perimeter and inside-facing doors. St. Pete architect Ron Zawistowski of Innovative Design Studios was brought in to perfect their design and get it builder-ready. Andy Stultz of Sarasota-based Atlas Building Company was tasked with the construction.
“The location is perfect,” says Brozak. “It’s a quick drive from the beaches and downtown Sarasota, and minutes from I-75. It’s also 41.5 feet above sea level and well away from any flood zone.”
Being rated to withstand a Cat 4 storm is one of the primary attractions of the complex, he adds.
“A great deal of interest has come from collectors who have homes on the beach or close to the water and worry about where to take their prized cars if a big storm is approaching. And with our own back-up generator, a garage can even provide a safe haven for families to ride out a storm,” he explains.
But the two friends-turned-developers see the WheelBase complex as much more than a safe place to keep “stuff.” They expect it to become a fun place for like-minded enthusiasts to hang out.
“There are plenty of similar car condo developments in Florida. But I think what sets us apart is the addition of the clubhouse and the focus on social interaction,” adds Brozak, whose collector car of choice is a 2009 Aston Martin Vantage.
He envisages cars-and-coffee-style events, gatherings in the leather-sofa’d lounge to watch motorsports on the big-screen, poker nights, even wine tastings and barbecues on the outdoor patio.
“The ground floor has a huge interior display area, so if Lamborghini or McLaren wanted to show off their newest model to our owners, we certainly have the space. They’d just need to bring the appetizers.”
WheelBase Premium Garage Condos is at 1600 Sarasota Center Boulevard in Lakewood Ranch. Sales are being handled by Joanna Benante and Ann Martin of realtors Michael Saunders & Company. For more information, go to www.WheelbaseGarageCondos.com.