THE STORY SO FAR
Founded in 1976, Southern Ventures has now been in operation for over 45 years. In that time, we have stretched, grown and evolved from a simple, local homebuilding business into a multi-faceted real estate corporation with operations in the brokerage, construction, design, development, investment, and management of real estate in the residential, multifamily and hospitality markets across the southeastern United States.
We believe that the history of this company is not only a record about who we used to be and who we are today - more importantly, perhaps, it informs who we strive to be as we continue to move forward.
The dream of this company began in the autumn of 1976 when the homebuilding partnership of Larson & Carnathan Builders was formed. The following year the company was incorporated as Southern Ventures Corporation - a name that reflected a vision beyond a single homebuilding operation.
In 1980, Southern Ventures opened its first office on Pinedale Road where we maintain a presence to this very day. In spit of the economic challenges of inflation and high interest rates, Southern Ventures developed the residential communities of Spencer's Crossing, Saddle Creek, Brittany Woods and the Villages of Willow Bend during this period.
Additional growth came as the company diversified into other real estate markets, to include the area's first office condominiums, Executive Park Town Office, as well as waterfront townhomes at Taliesin South and the rental offices at Union Station Professional Centre.
Recognizing a growing need for rental housing, Southern Ventures turned its attention to creating a new echelon of apartment living in Fort Walton Beach and, in 1989, opened the first Cayo Grande Apartments. Featuring a colonial West Indies architecture and beautifully landscaped courtyards, Cayo Grande was enthusiastically greeted by the community - most buildings were fully leased before they were even completed.
Despite the S&L crisis and severe restrictions on commercial lending, Southern Ventures was able to create new strategies to fund growth as more apartments were added to Cayo Grande and operations were expanded to include the Cayo Grande Suites Hotel and the Market Cafe at Cayo Grande. Homebuilding operations continued at a robust pace as new home construction continued in Lake Lorraine, Shalimar Woods and Harbor Breeze. By the end of the decade, a second apartment community was opened in Santa Rosa County - Cayo Grande Navarre.
In 2008 Southern Ventures re-opened its Pinedale Center offices after an extensive remodeling program that yielded space for its various operations, housed in an iconic Craftsman styled building. That same year, of course, also brought new economic challenges as the national real estate market faltered and some of the nation's largest financial institutions failed.
As the financial crisis expanded, its effects were felt across virtually all industries, especially the commercial real estate development business that had become the core of Southern Ventures' business operations. The company responded with an increased focus on management operations of our existing portfolio of multifamily oand hospitality properties with a drive to increase our efficiencies while continuing to deliver quality service.
In order to maintain some degree of ongoing construction while funding was unavailable for large developments in Florida, Southern Ventures decided to return to our roots by once again building single family homes in Crestivew, Niceville, Fort Walton Beach and Milton, Florida in projects such as Swift Creek, Swift Creek Plantation, The Preserve and Shady Glen Cove.
As the new millennium approached, and with over 24 years of business operations, Southern Ventures continued to be an innovative leader in the local construction industry. The expanding economy fostered our own expansion as we continued to bring high quality apartment communities to market with a third apartment community sharing the Cayo Grande branding opening along the golf course at Bluewater Bay in Niceville, Florida in 2001 - Cayo Grande Bluewater. A new apartment brand, Riverwood Apartments, was opened in Crestview, FLorida in 2003 while the first phase of Chez Elan - Fine Apartments opened in 2004 in Fort Walton Beach with later phases completing in 2006 and 2008.
In addition to multifamily operations - and based on the success of the Cayo Grande Suites Hotel - the company expanded its presence in the hospitality industry by securing a franchise for an Embassy Suites hotel in Destin, Florida and opened the 155 room property in 2001. This was followed by the development of a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel in Navarre, Florida which opened in 2008.