A proposed 18-story downtown hotel would allow Sarasota to have its cake and eat it, too.
In June 2012, the city was forced to choose between two hotel proposals for a site on North Palm Avenue.
An independent Floridays Development Co. boutique hotel beat out a proposed Embassy Suites. Though the choice was unanimous, members of the decision-making committee wrestled with selecting one
over the other.
“They are both excellent but serve two different purposes,” said Randy Welker, then the downtown economic development coordinator at the time. “One is more weekend- and business-oriented, and the other is a unique boutique hotel. I wish we could have both.”
Welker’s wish appears to be coming true. Jebco Ventures Inc., which lost out on the Palm Avenue hotel space, has submitted pre-application documents to build an Embassy Suites at 202 N. Tamiami Trail.
The proposed plan includes 200 suites on 10 floors, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant and a 4,000-square-foot ballroom/conference area, all atop a six-story parking garage with 200 parking spaces.
Jim Bridges, CEO of Jebco Ventures, says the plans for the hotel really began to ramp up again recently.
He says he’s not concerned about other hotels in development in the area, because the company’s market analysis suggests there’s plenty of room for this project.
“I’ve been seriously working on it for the last three months, due to the market conditions and the changes and what we see in the marketplace,” Bridges said. “We really began to take a second look at it — we looked at the surveys we’ve done, and the timing’s right.”
Bridges is excited about the new location, which he says allows the hotel to serve as a gateway to Sarasota. He praised the design of the proposed Sarasota hotel, which may buck some people’s expectations of what a typical Embassy Suites would look like. According to the Embassy Suites website, there are more than 200 Embassy Suites hotels in the United States, Canada and Latin America.
“The architecture here is very modern,” Bridges said. “You could put any flag in the world on there and it would look like it would belong.”
Bridges said he thinks his group will be ready to file for a building permit within the next 90 days.
Construction on the hotel is currently projected to take 16 months, and Bridges said he was hoping to begin construction in the third quarter of next year. That would place the date of completion around winter 2015-16.
Lubé, a kitchen-design and furniture store, currently sits on the proposed space. Although the land is housing a retail store now, zoning allows for a hotel to occupy that space, according to the pre-application documents. Bridges said the hotel would not require any non-administrative approval. The proposed development would occupy .36 acres.
As for the Floridays hotel, a recent development may have created an opening for the project to move forward. The Buck-Leiter group, an earlier potential developer of the Palm Avenue land, is planning to drop an aspect of its lawsuit against the city, according to Sarasota Senior Planner Steve Stancel. This will open up the title for the property, Stancel said; the project had been on hold while the lawsuit was ongoing.
“(Floridays) has continued to do its engineering and design, so I suspect we may see a formal application from them probably within the next couple of months,” Stancel said.
Contact David Conway at email@example.com.
DOWNTOWN HOTEL UPDATE
Second Street and North Tamiami Trail
200 rooms; 18 stories.
Pre-application proposal submitted to the city July 24.
North Palm Avenue and Cocoanut Avenue
200 rooms; nine stories.
On hold due to pending a city lawsuit.
North Gulfstream Avenue and North Tamiami Trail
275 rooms; 144 condominiums (in two separate towers).
Pre-application proposal submitted to the city Feb. 27.
Main Street and North Washington Boulevard
County began accepting proposals for land Aug. 1.
South Palm Avenue and Ringling Boulevard
148 rooms; 147 residential units (in two separate towers).
No submission to the city; Sarasota Planning Board approved three adjustments June 12.