HOLMES BEACH – The Lay-By resort has been sold to Nashville-based Coasting LLC and there is much speculation as to whether two married country music stars are behind the recent purchase.
The property at 105 White Ave. has long served as a resort for employees of the Norfolk Southern Corporation, including its subsidiary, the Norfolk Southern Railway.
According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the property sold for $8.825 million. The warranty deed posted at the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller website dated Friday, Oct. 18 also notes the $8.825 million financial consideration.
The deed lists Georgia-based Southern Region Industrial Realty Inc. as the seller. The buyer is listed as Coasting LLC, a Florida limited liability company with a Nashville, Tenn. mailing address.
According to the Florida Division of Corporations website, Coasting LLC filed its articles of organization on Sept. 24. Using a Nashville address, Cheryl S. Harris is listed as Coasting’s manager.
Harris is a partner at O’Neil Hagaman LLC, a Nashville-based business management and consulting firm that is dedicated solely to the entertainment industry, according to its Linkedin page, which also notes that the company’s clients include entertainers, record labels and industry executives. Harris is listed in several trade publications as the business manager for country music artist Garth Brooks.
When contacted on Friday, Oct. 25, Harris declined comment on the Lay-By sale and the parties involved.
CT Corporations Systems in Plantation is listed as the LLC’s registered agent and that Florida firm also declined comment.
As of Friday, Norfolk Southern’s media department had not responded to phone and email inquiries regarding the Lay-By sale.
Famous new owners?
On Friday, Oct. 18, Cindy Quinn, a real estate associate with the RE/MAX Alliance Group in Holmes Beach, commented on the sale on her Facebook page.
“Rumor has it Garth Brooks just purchased the ‘Layby,’ a gulf front 2 acre estate that was used as a retreat for the Norfolk Southern Railroad employees, for $8,825,000 on Anna Maria Island!” her Facebook post said.
When contacted on Friday, Oct. 25, Quinn acknowledged her Facebook post, but said she could not speak on the record about the real estate transaction.
Judie Berger, from the Sarasota-based Premier Sotheby’s International Realty firm, represented the seller and buyer in the Lay-By transaction. On Friday, Oct. 25, Berger was contacted by text message and asked if she could confirm or deny that Brooks and his wife, country music artist Trisha Yearwood, purchased the Lay-By property.
“I must decline comment, I cannot confirm. I worked through out-of-state attorneys and the contract was purchased through an LLC. As far as other agents posting on Facebook, they don’t have any direct knowledge to the sale, so everything is on conjecture,” Berger wrote in her response.
According to the Manatee County Property Appraiser website, the Lay-By property is 1.96 acres, with 9,770 square feet under roof and 8,242 square feet of living/business area.
According to the Realty.com listing, the waterfront resort was built in 1963 and features 14 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
It is not known yet what the new owners plan to do with the property.
As of Friday, the page description for the “Love the Lay By” Facebook page said, “For over 50 years the Lay By has been a place of quiet retreat for NS (Norfolk Southern) employees, retirees and their families. It represents the NS commitment to family as part of our corporate culture, something very rare in today’s corporate numbers only world. Please share your Lay By photos and memories and invite everyone who loves the Lay By to do the same!”
On Sept. 17, page administrator Jim Horgan wrote: “It looks like the Lay-by closing is scheduled for the end of this month. It has been a wonderful place for many of us and our friends and families. I will keep this group open for anyone who wants to reminisce with photos or stories about the great times spent at the Lay-by.”
On Oct. 19, Cecilia Brown posted this message: “Sadly, layby is officially gone.”
In reply, Rebecca Reeves wrote, “41 years of wonderful memories. I am so sad to not be able to continue this tradition with my family.”