Two companies with vast experience in the construction of luxury hotels and residences are interested in building a hotel on a city-owned parcel adjacent to the Palm Avenue parking garage, close to the intersection of North Palm Avenue and Cocoanut Avenue.
Sarasota-based Floridays Development Co. and Atlanta-based Jebco Ventures Inc., which also has a Sarasota office, held a closed-door meeting with city staff Tuesday at City Hall to discuss their proposals during an invitation-to-negotiation session.
City Purchasing Manager Mary Tucker said the city has until Dec. 16 to negotiate a deal with either company, with the results to be presented to the Sarasota City Commission.
“The goal is to narrow down the candidate and present the findings to the commissioners early next year,” Tucker said.
Meanwhile, discussions with both companies are closed to the public, and neither party can discuss with the public its proposal for a hotel on the 40,000-acre site, which is permitted for a 10-story hotel. The state’s Sunshine Laws grant more latitude to closed meetings when they involve economic development decisions.
Floridays was founded in 1990 in Sarasota; its portfolio of resorts and hotels includes the Grande Riviera and Sarasota Bay Club resort communities in Sarasota and the Floridays Orlando Resort in Orlando. Floridays also has built a variety of residential communities and assisted-living facilities in areas such as Naples, Viera, Coral Springs and Tamarac.
Jebco Ventures is a 30-year-old company that has constructed a variety of high-rise residential buildings, mixed-use development, freestanding retail development, neighborhood retail centers and luxury residences and apartment buildings.
Although Jebco has developed properties for national retailers such as Home Depot and
Wal-Mart, its website also states that it “works selectively with outside partners to develop joint venture opportunities.”
Locally, Jebco’s portfolio includes downtown Sarasota’s Vista Bay Point two-building, luxury condominium towers. Jebco bought the land where Vista Bay Point sits and coordinated the development and sales of the 16 residences, which were completed in 2005.
City Planner Steve Stancel said last month, “It’s a goal of the city to have a working hotel right in the urban core … (The Palm Avenue parcel) makes for a good site because it’s a block-and-a-half from the waterfront and a block from Main Street. It’s an attractive site for a hotel developer.”
General negotiation parameters, Stancel said, include a willingness to put a hotel on the site, the mandatory use of the adjacent parking garage and the purchase of the land from the city.
Once staff completes its negotiations with prospective developers, it will make a recommendation to the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board before the City Commission reviews the selection.
City Manager Bob Bartolotta said he believes officials have reviewed “very good proposals.”
At the same time, city staff is working on the development of the retail space on the ground floor of the Palm Avenue parking garage. The lowest of four bidders for that space came in at $1.6 million.
In a related matter, the commission will hold a discussion at its 2:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, regular meeting to decide whether city staff should change the bid process for the future State Street parking garage, which the city has agreed to build in the next four years, to an invitation-to-negotiate process, similar to the hotel development plan.
The city already has issued a request for proposals to begin soliciting a design build team this summer for the State Street garage, but at least one interested party has requested an invitation-to-negotiate process.
There already has been preliminary discussion about a year-round farmers market and a CVS Pharmacy on the future first floor of the State Street garage.