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Ben Mallah sells properties, says ‘the big boom is over’

Veronica Brezina

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The estate at 140 Willadel Drive in Belleair. Realtor.com.

As the booming real estate market cools off and interest rates reach new heights, businessman Ben Mallah is grappling with making profitable investments in today’s harsh economic climate. 

Mallah, known for his bigger-than-life personality and vlog on real estate dealings, has sold his nearly 12,000-square-foot Belleair estate in an $8.7 million deal. Mallah purchased the waterfront home at 140 Willadel Drive in late 2021 for $7.1 million. 

“The market was jumping, and I thought I could get it and make some improvements. Now interest rates have tripled, and the market is falling apart,” Mallah said.

Ben Mallah. File photo.

He said he essentially “broke even” with the sale, attributing it to the investments he has pumped into the property and the economic downturn. 

The home at was built in 1991 by Marshall Rinker Jr. and his wife Mary. Marshall’s father, Marshall Rinker Sr., founded the concrete company Rinker Materials Corp., which was once the largest concrete company in the state. 

Over an eight-month period, Mallah replaced the roof, improved the seawall and added boat docks. The property includes a guest house, putting green and tennis courts. 

He previously listed the home with an asking price of $12.995 million. 

Priscilla Pesce with Charles Rutenberg Realty represented Mallah in the transaction. Brandy Jagdmann with Engel and Völkers Belleair represented the buyer.

Mallah was initially interested in the property for the nearly two-acre lot that offers views of Sand Key and Clearwater Harbor. 

“The big boom is over. Insurance has destroyed resale in Florida,” Mallah said. “People who used to qualify for $1 million dollar loans are getting $500,000. Everybody is at a standstill because of their property’s worth. 

Through his Largo-based Equity Management Partners entity, Mallah has been buying-and-selling more commercial real estate properties. 

In John’s Pass, he has developed 10 hotel rooms near the Menna’s Landing condominium building, which he purchased. Mallah plans to double the room count. 

“Tourism falls into a different category. We have to keep running it the best way we can,” he said. 

Mallah also bought The Treasure Bay Resort and Marine Club for $10.88 million and plans to renovate the 83-room resort overlooking Boca Ciega Bay. The waterfront resort also features a pool and an outdoor bar. 

Treasure Bay Resort and Marine Club. Facebook image.

However, Mallah said he will be selling his long-term assets. 

“I’m selling them because of interest rates. In my 30 years of real estate, I’ve never seen this. I originally planned to keep them [the long-term assets] or until I was ready to sell,” Mallah said. 

He recently executed the sale of a Publix Supermarkets-anchored shopping center in Englewood; the plaza sold for roughly $8.785 million. 

The Seminole Oaks Shopping Center. GoogleMaps.

Additionally, Mallah sold two local Winn-Dixie-anchored plazas: The 65,000-square-foot Seminole Oaks Shopping Center, which sold in an $11.8 million deal, and the Meres Shopping Center in Tarpon Springs, which sold in a $7.2 million deal. 

“I had to get out. It doesn’t make sense right now. I need to redeploy the money I’ve invested,” Mallah said. “I’m just rolling with the punches, but hopefully there will be new opportunities.” 

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