New owners giving Tesoro Preserve a complete makeover
BY GLENN R. SWIFT
Gently nestled along the banks of the scenic St. Lucie River lies 1,500 acres of untouched wetlands, luxury gardens, the luscious rolling greens of two championship golf courses, beautiful lakes and an abundance of tropical wildlife.
Welcome to Tesoro Preserve - the Crown Jewel of the Treasure Coast.
Tesoro has always been recognized as one of the area's most prestigious waterfront communities, but it's no secret that the development has had its ups and downs. Held back by developers who lacked the necessary financial resources, managerial expertise and strategic vision, the community never realized its full potential.
Well… times are changing.
"We've got a team that has the resources, skill sets and experience to make this the finest, luxury development on the Treasure Coast," said Bobby Barfield, the onsite real estate broker in charge of Tesoro, who helped connect the new owners.
He should know. Barfield is not only one of the most experienced real estate brokers on the Treasure Coast, but, along with site engineer Toby Oberdorf, he has been directly involved with Tesoro since it first broke ground nearly two decades ago.
"This time is different," he said. "The new owners are true movers and shakers with very deep pockets and loads of experience with luxury developments all over the country, including South Florida. They also have the patience to determine what needs to be done and the best way to do it."
PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE
The all-star team Barfield referred to is exactly that. The three owners are two New York investors, Tim Jones and Rod O'Connor, and a South Florida real estate and football legend, Tucker Frederickson.
Jones is the CEO of Robert Martin, LLC based in Elmsford, New York. Major projects are not exactly rare with Robert Martin. The company has a long track record of acquiring, developing and managing high-end properties of all kinds and holds more than 60 properties across the country with more than 20 million square feet of office, warehouse and residential properties.
A dominant Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, the company recently acquired 56 buildings with more than a million square feet of office space for an eye-opening $500 million - the largest ever in the Empire State's affluent Westchester County. So, when it comes to those deep pockets, Barfield referred to, you can't get much deeper.
O'Connor, best friend and close associate of Jones, is another New York developer with a long pedigree of successful real estate projects across the country. O'Connor and Jones have worked together and partnered on a number of mega projects. Fortuitously, the two had escaped to Florida as COVID-19 ravaged the New York City area in the summer of last year.
"They were looking for an opportunity and immediately fell in love with the property," Barfield said. "They could see its enormous potential."
Last, but by no means least, is Frederickson, a man who's been winning all his life. An Auburn All-America football legend, first-round NFL draft pick, former New York Giants star and a longtime associate of Jack Nicklaus, he has for decades been a respected real estate developer in his native South Florida. Specializing in golf course communities, Frederickson was a driving force behind the exclusive Bear's Club in Jupiter.
WOWED BY LOCATION
All three were wowed by the property's beauty and seemingly endless enchanted vistas.
"There's just nowhere left to build in South Florida that's east of the Turnpike and 95 that offers what we have," Barfield said.
Tesoro features world-class golf with two par-72, signature championship golf courses [Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer], a racquet club with 10 Har-Tru tennis courts and an exhibition stadium court, two croquet courts and a pickle ball court, just minutes from Stuart with all its fine boutiques and restaurants.
Then there's the clubhouse.
The three-story Mediterranean, 100,000-square-foot clubhouse, known as the Crane Club, is spectacular. Set beside a 12-acre lake, the Crane Club offers services that set it apart from its South Florida neighbors. It has a large pool and deck, a full-service spa, first-class dining and a whole lot more provided by the new owners - The Lessing Hospitality Group.
Known for decades as the nation's foremost event planner and caterer, Lessing was founded in 1890 by Maxwell Lessing, who offered the first convenient lunch counter in New York City's Financial District.
Lessing has not only been known for top-shelf services but for innovation. Its out-of-the-box approach to business started with being the first to offer a new type of meal [the sandwich] and a new drink [Coca Cola] to Wall Street customers.
Today, the Lessing Group has evolved into a multidivisional company with more than 120 locations throughout the Northeast and Florida, including 17 wedding and catering venues, 10 full-service restaurants, more than 80 corporate and academic dining centers, seven Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza franchises, and a historical inn.
In 2019, Lessing launched the Pelican Club and Charlie and Joe's at Love Street in Jupiter. Sticking with a tropical bird theme, Lessing is taking the reins at the Crane Club in Tesoro.
"This is a unique and special venue," said Jennifer Caitlin, director of marketing and a 20-year veteran of Lessing. "This is not your typical Florida venue. We have another charming property in Jupiter overlooking the lighthouse with the Pelican Club, but that features a distinctly Bohemian, Florida style. This has a very different feel … more like the Amalfi coast."
Michael Lessing, Lessing's CEO and the founder's great-great-great-grandson, had this to say about Tesoro Preserve.
"When I first drove through the front gate, I said 'Holy smokes'... it just took my breath away. You're in Florida, but you're far away."
Lessing added this about how well the venue fits its exclusive clientele and prestigious portfolio.
"We don't do anything small," Lessing said jokingly "We can do any kind of event here up to 300 people on a grand scale. Whatever you can imagine, we can accommodate it at the Crane Club … destination weddings, galas, corporate expos … we can tent the backyard if you want."
And he had this to say about the opulence of the clubhouse.
"Before the current owners, the clubhouse interior was very dark," Lessing said.
"This is a full-scale renovation, from the painting and the lighting to the chandeliers and the hardwood floors. When everything is complete … in mid-February … we will feature the finest ballroom and bridal suite in Florida."
When it comes to housing, there is a wide variety of homes at Tesoro.
"We offer existing single-family homes with two bedrooms on quarter-acre lots to 7,000-square-foot mansions on half-acre lots, and none of the houses back up to one another," he said. "Every lot in the community borders a lake, a wetland or a golf course. There's a lot of room to roam … and if you want to build your own custom dream home, there are vacant lots available."
So, look out Vero Beach and Stuart, make room for Port St. Lucie because at Tesoro Preserve, the future is bright.