For more than a year, Sarasota officials have sought after a catalyst project for vacant city-owned property in the Rosemary District. On Monday, the City Commission will hear a developer’s proposal and discuss whether the project fits the bill.
The proposal is called Rosemary Square, and it would feature a variety of uses along Boulevard of the Arts, Fifth Street and Central Avenue. The project plans call for 40 residential units, 34,000 square feet of commercial, office and fine-arts space, 10,000 square feet for a boutique movie or performing-arts theater and a 7,000-square-foot “public town square.”
Real estate broker Mindy Kauffman, developer Mark Kauffman and architect Jonathan Parks spearhead the development plan and have been working on the proposal for more than a year, according to project documents. The group was the only respondent to the city’s Invitation to Negotiate, issued last summer for the city-owned property at 1440 Blvd. of the Arts and 1433 Fifth St. The project, if selected, would also incorporate adjacent privately-owned parcels.
At the end of 2012, the city held a public meeting to get resident input on what they’d like to see at the two Rosemary District properties. At the time, both city staff and Rosemary District residents expressed optimism that the redevelopment of the area could move quickly, particularly once the desired catalyst project was put into place. To this point, however, progress has been slower than originally hoped.
The team behind Rosemary Square has expressed a confidence that its project could be the tipping point for redevelopment. The group is specifically tailoring elements of the development to the city’s arts community, and says it's already receiving significant interest.
“As news of the Rosemary Square proposal spreads, art dealers, arts organizations and members of the arts community have expressed interest in being a part of this exciting new development,” the proposal states. “The arts, combined with the hip, urban lifestyle proposed by Rosemary Square, will be a catalyst for igniting further economic redevelopment in the area.”
On Monday, commissioners will consider a purchase and sale agreement for the city-owned land. If approved, the purchase price of the land would be $1,054,500, with constructed projected to start around the beginning of 2016.
The full text of the proposal can be found on the city's website.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].