Entrepreneur Jesse Biter has two parcels under contract — for a total of an acre of prime downtown land just north of Whole Foods Market Centre.
Biter plans to develop what he calls obtainable housing apartments on the site, with 180 units ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet, and starting at under $1,000-a-month rent. The average unit will be about 800 square feet, Biter said.
Biter’s effort to build the development would meet his vision for more affordable residential units in the city’s core.
“The live, work, play vision doesn’t work until a project like this is built,” Biter said.
Biter would be able to build the apartment development because of a city approval in 2007 that granted previous developer Leonard Garner a density bonus allowing up to 168 new residences at 1445 Second St., where the United Way of Sarasota building is currently located.
Under the city’s expired Downtown Residential Overlay District (DROD), the density bonus quadrupled the number of residential units that could be built. At the time, city officials were trying to spur the development of more affordable units downtown.
As long as Biter secures a building permit by 2015, he can build the additional units, Biter said.
“It’s still viable,” Senior City Planner Harvey Hoglund said about the previous DROD approval.
Biter also has the adjacent property, at 1401 Second St., under contract, he said. Twelve additional units could be built on that land, for a total of 180 units if the development is built.
Early plans for the 10-story apartment project include amenities such as a laundry shoot and a share-a-car community rental program for renters who want to trade their car for a bike.
If the deal goes through, it would be the fourth major downtown property investment in the last two years for Biter.
Real-estate broker John Harshman, representing the owner, confirmed that the United Way property was under contract.
For more details, pick up a copy of the Feb. 21 Sarasota Observer.