Investors Paid $65,000 For A Deserted Florida Island. Now It’s A Paradise Worth $14 Million

A vacant Florida island just off the coast of Tampa Bay known to generations as “Beer Can Island” has recently been listed for $14 million by a group of savvy investors who bought it for $65,000 in 2017. Beer Can Island’s legal name is Pine Key, and it’s composed of 9 acres in Hillsborough Bay about halfway between MacDill Air Force Base and Apollo Beach.

Pine Key earned the moniker Beer Can Island because, for most of its existence, the island’s only claim to fame was as an informal party spot where boaters could gather and cut loose while largely out of sight of local authorities. After the party, the only evidence they left behind were the empty cans of the beer they consumed during the festivities.

Then four friends from the area had the idea to buy Beer Can Island and convert it from a hang-out spot for drunken boaters to an upscale location open to members or available for rentals as a private party destination. In 2017, they paid $65,000 for the island and proceeded to upgrade its infrastructure by adding bathrooms, tropical-style thatched roofs for cabanas, a members-only water slide and a full bar.

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Although the new and improved Beer Can Island was a near instant hit with the local party-going population, it was decidedly less popular with the Hillsborough County officials. In the early days of their redevelopment, county authorities forced the new owners to close the bar and raised repeated issues about the ability of county emergency services to respond to emergencies on the island.

However, Beer Can Island had never been officially zoned by the county before its purchase, and Florida state laws grant property owners a relatively high degree of autonomy, especially when they’re operating a private club. This left the owners of Beer Can Island enough flexibility to realize their vision of a private club, albeit not without a significant cash investment on their part. The four partners spent an estimated $5 million on renovations.

There were also other issues. Anytime you have a place where partygoers have ruled the roost for decades, those partygoers inevitably begin to feel like they own the island and act like it. Although Beer Can Island had been privately owned before its current investors bought it, the old owner rarely if ever enforced their rights to partygoers off the island, mainly because the owner didn’t live on the island.

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When Beer Can Island’s investors took possession and began converting it to a private club, there was somewhat of a reeducation period where they were constantly telling would-be partygoers that their hang-out spot was now a privately owned, members-only club. As a compromise, they left part of the island open to people who wished to come ashore but designated another portion of the island for dues-paying members only.

It also didn’t hurt that the local community in and around Tampa Bay was supportive of the idea. Since opening, the private club has hosted weddings, parties and concerts with as many as 3,000 fans. Now, the four investors have decided it’s time to move on to a new adventure, which is why they’ve put Beer Can Island up for sale. There is no shortage of interested parties, but it will be an unconventional deal.

Although the owners are willing to accept cash offers, they are also open to auctioning the entire island off as a non-fungible token (NFT) in a cryptocurrency exchange transaction. Whoever buys the island will have the privilege of owning one of the few private islands in the Tampa Bay area. Whoever buys the island will also need to be ready to deal with some environmental challenges. Hurricane Idalia left Beer Can Island under five feet of water.

The island represents a unique opportunity for the right investor and demonstrates why real estate is such a popular investment. Four friends had the “crazy idea” of taking a $65,000 punt on a deserted island in 2017. Now, they stand to make millions of dollars off a single transaction.

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This article Investors Paid $65,000 For A Deserted Florida Island. Now It’s A Paradise Worth $14 Million originally appeared on Benzinga.com

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