A Starbucks and an apartment complex are coming to North Tamiami Trail, a sign that Sarasota colleges are luring development to the area.
When some people look at the North Trail, they see a blighted part of the city that’s struggled to take advantage of the growth that’s reshaping the urban core.
Thanks to Ringling College of Art and Design and other higher education institutions, at least two investors see opportunity, instead.
In the past two months, a pair of developers has moved forward with projects located just south of the Ringling College campus. Both projects — one a coffee shop, the other an apartment complex — seek to take advantage of their proximity to students.
Benderson Development filed plans with the city earlier this month for a Starbucks at 2455 N. Tamiami Trail. The documents say the coffee shop would be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with 60 seats and up to seven employees working at any one time.
The property, just south of Dr. Martin Luther King Way, is .56 acres. The plans call for two access points, one along U.S. 41 and one on 25th Street. The proposed building is 2,200 square feet. The business will have 28 parking spaces and a drive-thru lane.
The documents list the targeted completion of the project as December.
Benderson Director of Development Todd Mathes didn’t comment on the details of the development, but said the company is confident investing in the North Trail.
“Ringling College is a phenomenal local asset, and so we have all the faith in the world in the future of that area,” Mathes said.
“Every small improvement is a big deal for the Trail.” — Jay Patel
In May, the city’s Historic Preservation Board considered an application for a student housing project on the parcel just south of the Benderson site at 2433 N. Tamiami Trail. The board voted 4-2 to approve the demolition of the existing structure on the property, which did not have any historic designation but was listed in the Florida Master Site File because it dates to 1933.
Representatives for property owner Tembo Enterprises did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Brent Parker, whose architecture firm Parker Walter Group produced a preliminary plan for the project, said the developer intends to build about 30 apartment units on 1.4 acres.
Tembo Enterprises has not filed a final site plan for the project. Parker said the developer is weighing options before officially submitting documents to the city.
The Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast — C4, for short — is a collaborative group formed in 2015. It includes three schools on the North Trail: Ringling College, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and New College of Florida.
Both Ringling College and New College are in the process of implementing growth plans. Laurey Stryker, manager of the C4 initiative, said collaboration and expansion is creating increased interest in developments targeted at the colleges.
“There’s always been that caveat — are there enough students together to justify private investors?” Stryker said. “The growth of the institutions can only increase interest from outside developers.”
North Trail stakeholders are excited about the prospect of new buildings going up. Jay Patel is the owner of the Regency Inn and chairman of the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership. Even if the two projects are isolated ventures and not a sign of a wave of growth, he wants to make sure people are aware of the success stories along U.S. 41.
“Every small improvement is a big deal for the Trail, because it breaks the whole notion of derelict properties and a negative element walking around,” Patel said. “It’s changed quite a bit.”
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