By Brian Bokor
Having to work from home has been a substantial change to many of us over the past 12 months, but for owner/residents of Winthrop’s live-work units, that is the one thing that has remained the same.
If you were not aware, just about every building in the Winthrop Town Centre community with a second or third story contains an apartment unit above the business on the ground floor, hence the term ‘live-work,’ with several business owners of Winthrop enjoying the short work commute down the stairs.
“These units are true hybrids where the ground level is designed to support a retail store or professional office with the upper floor used as a residence or as an investment property for the owner,” said John Sullivan, co-founder, president, developer and live-work unit resident of Winthrop.
He and his wife, Kay, started Winthrop 20 years ago with the vision of creating a neighborhood sharing retail, residential, educational, professional and cultural entities in hope of bringing together a community where people can put their roots down.
The 51 live-work units, 31 of which are either occupied or permitted but not yet constructed, are a prime example of the ‘new urbanist’ concept that the Sullivans wanted all along, a place where one could find virtually every necessity without needing to get into their car.
Live-work units were the norm for the early part of 20th century America until our passion with the automobile moved many from cities to the suburbs. For example, George W. Jenkins, owner and founder of Publix Super Markets, started his chain of over 1,250 locations out of a single live-work unit in Winter Haven over 90 years ago, living in the apartment above his first store.
This shift in population to more rural areas created the advent of the regional malls and strip centers we see today, but also unfortunately contributed to what has been labeled an ‘urban sprawl’ by separating the places where people live from where they work and shop. In the early 80s, a ‘new urbanism’ movement took hold, with architects, planners and developers wanting to revisit the walkable, functional and sustainable communities of the past in order to restore a sense of unity among its residents and businesses.
Many of the newly proposed developments in the Brandon/Riverview area have the term ‘mixed-use’ associated with them, and although live-work and mixed-use could be used interchangeably, John made it clear that Winthrop was designed to be far more than your typical mixed-use project.
“All of the (live-work) units are sold fee simple, meaning both upper and lower units are sold to the same entity, allowing the owner to make the final decision on whether to live in or rent out the apartment unit,” said John. ”In other mixed-use projects, the developer sometimes retains ownership of the lower floor retail businesses, which puts the upper floor renters in a situation where they have no control over who occupies the space below or what moves into that spot.”
Additionally, many of these new mixed-use projects do not contain the full array of mom and pop as well as brand-name business and professional services that Winthrop provides, which sets it apart from all the others in our area.
Two of the newest live-work unit owners will be Michelle Mosher of Southshore Insurance Professionals and James J. Pulkowski CPA, PA. They are both currently working out of the same Millennium Pkwy. location but will be relocating their businesses to Winthrop as soon as their unit has been completed, which should be by the end of April. Their plans are to work independently out of the same downstairs office while renting out the upstairs level as an income-producing property.
The office suites on the ground floor were designed specifically to fit their needs, with the unit above customized into a three-bedroom/two-bath apartment. Cindy Manchesi, vice president of sales and leasing (and another Winthrop live-work resident), assists potential businesses and services with the design of the office space and apartment layout.
Please contact John or Cindy at 681-3480 or visit winthropusa.com for additional information on the live-work units or anything else related to the Winthrop community.