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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 11, 2010 7 years ago

Main Street hotel 'not feasible'

by: Robin Roy City Editor

What would have been the only hotel on Main Street is no longer in the works. Benderson Development has removed a hotel as the major component in its building at Main Street and Orange Avenue.

Benderson planned to build a 15-floor building next to the Ellis building, which houses Bank of America. A hotel would have occupied nine of its floors, with office space on the top five floors.

“A hotel is not financially feasible right now,” said Larry Fineberg, a Benderson vice president. “Rates are down. Occupancy is down. There’s no financing out there.”

Fineberg said his company is considering different options, but did not want to mention specifics. He did say that Benderson will be painting and re-filming the fading exterior and making some interior improvements to the Ellis building. Selling the building is not something the company has discussed, according to Fineberg.

The elimination of that hotel creates a setback to the desires of many community leaders who want to see more downtown hotels.

The closest hotels to Main Street are the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, the Hyatt Regency, Hotel Indigo and Hotel Ranola (see map).

Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it would have been beneficial to have a hotel at Main Street and Orange Avenue.

“Hotel Ranola is overwhelmed with guests,” she said.

Haley said hotels are good for the area’s tourist business, because the overabundance of condos only exacerbates the seasonality of Sarasota’s current tourism business.

“Hotels give you year-round business,” she said. “It’s very important to have another downtown hotel.”

The Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to present the County Commission with a plan to attract investment in a downtown business hotel.

One of Haley’s goals for the next five years is to find private-sector companies to finance a new business hotel.

One place some city commissioners have expressed interest in is placing a hotel is in the vacant space next to the soon-to-be built Palm Avenue parking garage.

However, the city will have to face the same challenges as Benderson.

“The risk is too high, the cost to develop is too high,” said Fineberg. “We’ve got a number of strikes against us.”

To download a PDF of downtown area maps, click here.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].


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