In the midst of a downtown Sarasota building boom, an established neighborhood is ripe for redevelopment.
The 90-year-old Golden Gate Point peninsula sits in the shadow of the rising 18-story Vue Sarasota Bay, the largest construction project in the city of Sarasota.
But with two major residential building projects underway in the district — and at least three more in the works — the swath of land southeast of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue has become the epicenter of luxury condominium construction in downtown Sarasota. And with vacant property quickly running out, the area is ripe for redevelopment.
“We're running out of blank pieces of dirt,” said architect Brent Parker, who designed several buildings in the district and served as the Golden Gate Association President in the mid 2000s. “Pretty much all the dirt on the water is gone, and it looks like the redevelopment of the center will be the next play.”
Sarasota-based Nokomis Ventures has started the development process, submitting plans to replace three buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1960s at 609 Golden Gate Point. A Feb. 22 site plan for the project calls for a four-story building over parking with eight residential units.
Vandyk completed the first new condo in Golden Gate Point in nearly a decade with the five-story, $11 million One88 Residences in December. It was the first of the onslaught of residential projects to open its doors.
“There's no question,” said Albert Luper, Vandyk Florida division vice president. “The buildings that are down in the middle will almost certainly be replaced.”
Luper’s firm continued its investment in the area last month with a $3.5 million purchase of the second-to-last piece of vacant land in Golden Gate Point, which has frontage on Gulfstream.
The final piece of undeveloped property without plans in place is being used as a staging area for one of the new condo projects. That land was once under consideration for a 16-unit high-rise called Casa de Mayo, according to city records.
“If you add proximity to water with the location, I don’t see a reason why new construction would be anything but desirable,” said Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent Cheryl Loeffler, who is listing units at the Golden Gate Point condo Aqua for between $3.1 million and $5.5 million. That nine-story tower broke ground in April 2015.
"It is an upscale downtown neighborhood — so it really does have the feel of a neighborhood," Loeffler said.
In 2009, the city completed a $3 million streetscape project that resulted in new bricks, lighting, tree plantings and underground utilities. Parker, who oversaw design for the improvements, credits them for contributing to the rise in new construction and property values.
Luper wouldn’t be surprised if a developer tries to cobble together agreements with condo owners in some of the larger buildings around the edge of the neighborhood to sell for bigger redevelopment projects, as well.
“In most cases I would think those buildings would be demolished,” Luper said.
In 2005, before the recession hobbled the real estate market, developer Taylor Woodrow offered $46 million to
buy out owners at Pier 550 for the chance to construct 62 new units in its place, according to a history of the peninsula posted on the Golden Gate Point Association’s website.
“Pier 550 has been discussing selling, but you’ve got to assemble 50-some owners,” Parker said. “That’s challenging, and the prices I’ve heard are seriously challenging.”
And while the latest building proposals promise to further change the face of Golden Gate Point, the shape the skyline takes as more construction builds up is unclear.
Zoning rules in the neighborhood largely restrict buildings to thin high-rises or stouter mid-rise buildings five stories and under, said Parker, who designed the eight-unit Allure townhomes project slated to break ground in April. The challenge for developers moving forward will be deciding how to handle the view restrictions created from the surrounding buildings.
“You have to really think about that, because you're not in the front row,” Parker said.