Sarasota County commissioners took a step toward approving a new downtown hotel located at the northeast corner of U.S. 301 and Main Street.
At a meeting Wednesday, commissioners unanimously voted to direct staff to negotiate with SHD Partners on a contract that would allow the development group to construct a hotel on the county-owned parcel, located at 20 N. Washington Blvd.
The developers plan to build a nine-to-10-story Kimpton hotel on the land. The hotel, at 115,000 square feet, would contain 150 rooms, a 120-seat restaurant and a 6,000-square-foot conference area.
As part of a sale agreement with the county, SHD Partners would conduct a parcel swap to allow for the county to continue providing parking for downtown county services. If an agreement were finalized, SHD Partners would obtain the property at 2051 Main St. and construct an 86-space parking lot before transferring that space to the county.
To complete the agreement, SHD Partners would pay the county about $660,000 — the difference between the assessed values of the two properties.
County Commissioner Nora Patterson said she was concerned about several aspects of the proposal, including the possibility that the hotel project could fall through and the county would have simply swapped a property for a less valuable one. Patterson also objected to the group using the assessed value of the property, rather than the appraisal of more than $4 million the county received.
Representatives for SHD Partners said they were all committed to the project and that the initial proposal was based on the information they had available to them.
The hotel was one of only two proposals the county received for the land during the 45-day invitation to negotiate period. The other proposal, which would have created an office for the headquarters of a regional bank, received criticism from commissioners for not providing enough detail.
Commissioner Joe Barbetta said he preferred the hotel proposal because it was larger in scale and could provide more economic opportunities.
“This property is not on the tax rolls right now,” Barbetta said. “It needs to get on the tax rolls.”
Commissioners stressed that Wednesday’s action was just the beginning of the negotiation process, and that no plan has been finalized. Still, they expressed hope that the hotel would come to fruition.
“I’m really interested in where the negotiations go on this,” Patterson said. “If they go well, my interest is getting more hotel rooms in Sarasota County and especially in the downtown area.”
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