Downtown entrepreneur Jesse Biter is working on a deal to purchase 10 storefronts fronting mid-Main Street.
The sale would encompass two buildings for a total of 200 feet of commercial storefront on Main Street.
Biter confirmed Wednesday, Dec. 12, that he was looking at property on Main Street but declined to discuss details of the deal before it closed.
However, news of the prospective deal was briefly discussed at a Downtown Improvement District meeting last week, when the board’s operations manager, John Moran, said Biter was in the process of purchasing “a major property on Main Street” that would include 10 storefronts.
Both of the buildings, immediately adjacent to each other at 1564 Main St. and 1560 Main St., are under contract, according to several tenants currently renting space in the buildings who were notified of the pending transactions.
If the deal goes through, it would be the third major downtown property investment in the last two years for Biter, an entrepreneur who sold his $16 million auto sales software firm in 2010.
In December 2011 Biter entered into an agreement with the city of Sarasota to buy the 11,000-square-foot retail space on the ground floor of the Palm Avenue parking garage for $1.6 million.
Biter was also involved in plans to move the HuB, a for-profit business incubator, to its new headquarters at the site of the former Century Bank on Fruitville Road and Goodrich Avenue. He purchased that building in May 2011 for $2.8 million.
Brooke Misantone, co-owner of the Bullet Hole, said current negotiations were under way for the sale of the building at 1564 Main Street that houses his store, but he did not know any details.
The Bullet Hole, 1576 Main St., is one of five storefronts in the building. The other current tenants include: Pho Cali, the Drunken Poet, Pangea Lounge and its attached Lan Restaurant. That building houses 9,700-square-feet of commercial space, currently owned by 1564 Main Street LLC, of New York, and is currently under contract, confirmed Michael Saunders & Co. Realtor Lee DeLieto Jr., who is representing the seller.
“That building has been on the market,” DeLieto said. “The seller found that the offer is acceptable.”
If the contract is approved, the purchase could close by the end of the year, DeLieto said.
DeLieto declined to comment further on the sale during the due-diligence period.
The separate, neighboring building to the east is said to be part of another prospective Biter purchase. That building, which is currently owned by Suzanne Krill, houses 8,150 square feet of commercial space.
Martin Hyde, owner of Gulf Business Systems’ Copy Center, 1548 Main St., said the building is old and in need of renovations, and Hyde was encouraged after he heard from his current landlord that someone was investing in the property.
“I think it’s a good thing a young person with a vision wants to go forward,” Hyde said.
At least for the near future, Hyde hopes to be able to stay in the same location where his business has been for 13 years.
But, because both buildings are under contract, Hyde expects Biter to soon announce “bigger” long-term plans for the properties.
The two properties have development potential.
Under the city’s downtown core zoning, a mixed-use project up to 10 stories can be built, but parking would have to figure as part of any project plans, said Harvey Hoglund, senior planner with the city.