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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 17, 201912:02 PM EST

Historic Sweet Pete’s building in Downtown Jacksonville is for sale

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Candy business remains open after MLG restaurant inside closes.

Downtown’s historic Sweet Pete’s building at 400 N. Hogan St. is for sale.

While the MLG restaurant inside recently closed, the candy business remains open.

The three-story structure is designed as a candy-store wonderland and is anchored by the Jacksonville-based Sweet Pete’s candy company.

Sweet Pete's partner Allison Behringer said Friday the business would know more about its plans when a buyer emerges.

“We have a lot of different options,” she said. “We will wait to see if we negotiate a lease to stay or if we relocate.”

She said business is good.

In July 2014, Marcus Lemonis, an investor and reality TV host of “The Profit,” paid $550,000 for building that is now is the home of Sweet Pete's.

Marcus Lemonis, an investor and reality TV host of “The Profit,” owns the building and is a partner in Sweet Pete’s with its founders, Allison and her husband, Peter Behringer.

Lemonis recently closed his MLG – Marcus Lemonis Grill – in the building six months after it opened in November. The restaurant replaced the Candy Apple Café.

The Shopping Center Group, www.theshoppingcentergroup.com, is marketing the building. The listing on its website is headlined: “Historic Downtown Building for Sale.

“We were hired by Marcus Lemonis to market the building for sale,” said Kelly Pulignano, a leasing adviser with TSCG.

“We think it's a great opportunity for a new business to be established in the thriving Downtown area, especially with all the surrounding Downtown development going on,” she said.

She said the for-sale signs would be posted within a few weeks.

Pulignano declined to comment about Sweet Pete's.

As the property owner, Lemonis operated his companies in the building. In such cases, a buyer would negotiate with existing users to become tenants, if desired.

At present, the available space for a new business would be the cafe.

Pulignano and Stephanie McCullough, a partner with TSCG, are the contacts.

The partners at Sweet Pete’s candy company say business is good.

Pulignano did not disclose the asking price and advised prospective buyers to contact her for that information. Property records show the building is assessed at $1.1 million for tax purposes.

Duval County property records show the structure was built in 1909. It operated for decades as the private Seminole Club. It closed, was reopened for a time and then closed again.

In July 2014, Lemonis paid $550,000 for the structure. He renovated it and moved Sweet Pete’s from Springfield and also leased spaced to Candy Apple Café.

The building closed to the public Aug. 10 for repairs after Sweet Pete’s owners found condensation forming inside the building. 

While the building was closed to the public, online sales and candy production continued, but Candy Apple Café announced its permanent closure.

In October, the building’s ownership announced that MLG would replace Candy Apple Café. Lemonis launched the American-style restaurant in Chicago, where he is based. 

The building reopened Nov. 23, on Black Friday, according to the Sweet Pete’s Facebook page.

TSCG’s property brochure notes the $1 million renovation of the three-story, 16,900-square-foot building and 730-square-foot porch. Property records show the building at a larger 22,553 square feet.

Sweet Pete's candy is now packaged in boxes.

Pulignano said she and McCullough have been marketing the property as they prepared to put up the signs.

“We’ve had a lot of interest so far, purely from a soft-marketing campaign,” she said.

“We’ve had interest from both local and national groups, so I think it’s just about finding the right buyer who understands Downtown Jacksonville and how unique this property is,” she said.

Upon entering the building, the café and bar area is on the left and Sweet Pete’s operates a candy store to the right. The kitchen is in the back.

The second floor features more retail space, a dining and party room, dessert dining and a view of the candy production.

The third floor comprises party and production demonstration areas along with toys and offices.

In addition to retail and online sales, Sweet Pete’s hosts school and other organized tours as well as parties and events.

In 2014, Sweet Pete’s was featured on an episode of “The Profit.” The Lemonis ownership allowed it to expand its retail and manufacturing into the former Seminole Club and to expand its e-commerce business.

Lemonis also is chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises and he leads other ventures.

Sweet Pete’s also made headlines recently when Sweet Pete’s LLC settled a lawsuit by agreeing to pay $2 million to a California candy company, Sugarfina Inc., after a federal court found that Sweet Pete’s knowingly copied some of the company’s product names and package designs.

A sign blocks the door to the closed MLG restaurant inside Sweet Pete's.

 

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