Sarasota multimillionaire sailing on to Belize; Selling Investment Portfolio in Sarasota & Manatee
By Michael Pollick
Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.
Harvey Vengroff, a self-made multimillionaire who moved to Southwest Florida 23 years ago so he could go sailing every day, is sailing on — to Belize.
Vengroff, the 72-year-old founder of one of the world’s largest collection agencies, plans to sell a $75 million Southwest Florida property portfolio that he amassed after arriving in 1990. He has hired NAI Global and Sean Dreznin, Phil Ginexi & Kyle Keelan & Andrew Haddad of Keller Williams to sell the portfolio investments. He is also making it possible for his real estate employees to acquire another $20 million worth of apartments on favorable terms.
Since he got here, Vengroff has been a colorful character who prefers casual clothes, rails against government bureaucrats and tends to do things his own way.
Vengroff renamed the collection agency that is still in the family as Vengroff Williams Inc.
That company, which employs more than 100 in this region, maintains larger offices in Long Island, N.Y.; Chicago and Orange County, Calif., collecting on commercial delinquent accounts for a large number of clients, including General Electric Co., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.
“We are not moving anybody out of Sarasota,” Vengroff told the Herald-Tribune. “We are just going to add new people in Belize, that’s all.”
One of them will be Harvey Vengroff.
On a more personal level, Vengroff said he has been disappointed in the reception he has gotten from the City of Sarasota when he has asked for higher density rights on properties so that he could build rental apartments. Specifically, he has sought permission to build high-rise rental buildings at 2211 Fruitville Road, the close-in, 8-acre site now on the market for $8 million.
“If you want to build luxury condos you can get 200 per acre,” Vengroff said. “If you want to build affordable housing, you cannot get 50 per acre.”
Vengroff says he has empowered three agents to liquidate the roughly $75 million in real estate, most of it affordable housing.
These agents are Sean Dreznin, Kyle Keelan and Phil Ginexi from NAI Tampa Bay.
“I don’t think there was anybody who ever dedicated themselves more to affordable housing for the work force than Harvey,” said Kerry Kirschner, executive director of Argus Foundation, who in a former political life helped recruit Vengroff to Southwest Florida.