Residents of the Alinari condominium complex downtown were interested in what would develop on the land adjacent to their property. So, they decided to make sure they had control of the outcome.
The Alinari Condominium Association, in response to growing concerns about the future of an unoccupied tract behind the building at 800 N. Tamiami Trail, spent $650,000 to purchase the 54,124 square feet of land July 8. The fate of the grassy property is still up in the air, but one thing is for certain: It’s in the hands of Alinari residents.
The chain of events that led to the purchase started with a failed attempt to develop that land. Alinari was part of a grander plan to develop two high-rises alongside mixed-use townhouses and studios; after the housing market crashed, the high-end construction faltered, and the high-rises stood alone.
As the land sat undeveloped, Alinari residents became accustomed to the undisturbed greenspace, condo association President Carl Falletta said. When the property went up for sale a year-and-a-half ago, as the market was recovering, residents had to confront the reality that the land wouldn’t be undisturbed for much longer.
Unless, of course, the residents took a significant step to ensure it was. Falletta said an exploratory committee was put together to look into purchasing the land as soon as it was put on the market. Quickly, he said, two sides developed among residents when they were approached about buying the property.
In actuality, they were fighting for the same cause. One group was interested in adding amenities to the land, in enhancing the property. The other group didn’t want a developer to build something on the land without their approval.
Mary Ann Rihm-Swanson, an Alinari resident, seems to fall into both camps. She said it was important to preserve the greenspace as Alinari’s pathway to downtown, but was also grateful for the certainty that she wouldn’t have to look at an alleyway full of dumpsters in that space.
“I believe that this was a no-brainier for the owners who wish to preserve what is going to be built around us,” Rihm-Swanson said. “This was an opportunity to not only protect our investments, but to enrich the value of our property.”
Falletta said the condominium will take a wait-and-see approach to decide the future of the newly purchased property. Suggestions from residents have included a garden, a park, a tennis court and simply leaving the current greenspace.
“It’s been a mixed bag of ideas,” Falletta said. “We’ll talk to the owners soon and start all over again and see what their ideas are.”
Contact David Conway at [email protected].