The corner of Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue has been eating away at longtime Sarasota real-estate developer Tom Mannausa for more than 20 years.
In 1989, Mannausa had a fifth-floor office in the Palm Tower building and remembers looking down at the one-story buildings on the Main Street block between Gulfstream and Palm avenues.
“I would come there every day and look at the view of those properties before Epicure was even built there,” Mannausa said.
“I always thought it would be a terrific residential site … the best residential site in downtown Sarasota.”
A downturn in the economy, followed by a recession, made Mannausa’s goal unattainable.
But in December 2010, Mannausa made his move, purchasing the corner lot at the corner of Gulfstream Avenue and Main Street for $870,000 from the estate of developer Samuel Hamad, whose Marquee on the Bay residential project fell apart during the downturn in the economy.
When Mannausa purchased the Hamad property, the purchase price came with Hamad’s former plans designed by Hoyt Architect President Gary Hoyt.
“The prior presentation only encompassed the corner lot, though, and I knew that was wrong,” Mannausa said. “ My vision has always been the entire block.”
Immediately, Mannausa began negotiating a purchase price for the Living Walls furniture store. Mannausa told the Sarasota Observer he closed on the property last week.
Mannausa has also worked out an agreement to purchase The Sports Page Bar & Grill from owners Kenny Barr and Bob Richards, in July.
“I’ll own the corner free and clear up to Epicure,” Mannausa said.
Coming full circle, Mannausa has also negotiated an agreement with Epicure, which will stay put in exchange for the ability to make design modifications that will allow Mannausa’s new condominium tower to blend in with the Epicure property.
“We will integrate the design of the first three levels of our property with Epicure, so, architecturally, our theme will be carried through the entire block,” Mannausa said. “Everything will be cohesive.”
Epicure, meanwhile, will be given exclusive rights to allow future residents of the condominium tower to order anything on its menu and have it delivered.
‘The Jewel’ of Sarasota
Years of planning have led to Mannausa’s goal of building what he perceives as the premier condominium tower in downtown Sarasota. Mannausa calls it a “no-brainer” to name his project located at 1301 Main St., “The Jewel.”
The modern, contemporary tower being designed by Hoyt calls for 18 floors.
Mannausa is so confident the market is ready for a project like this that he’s already starting to commission structural, mechanical, civil, waterproof and wind-load engineers to assist in creating the building. Sarasota land-use planner Joel Freedman has already been obtained to assist in maintaining compliance with all of the codes through the project’s design-development and construction-drawing phases.
Several preliminary meetings with the city’s planning department have already been held, and Mannausa has leased a space across the street from the project for a leasing office that’s expected to open no later than the end of July.
The mixed-use project will include two floors of 7,800 square feet of commercial space that will house Living Walls Furniture (on the first and second floors), Les Ciseaux Salon & Spa (which is moving from St. Armands Circle), Valerie’s Fine Art Studio and Gallery and a local jeweler who’s also committed to move to the future space. The second floor will make up Living Walls Furniture, the salon and T. Mannausa & Co.’s corporate offices.
As far as the residential portion, Hoyt said residents would enter the urban building with sweeping glass views through a 30-foot, two-story lobby, complete with LED lighting.
“It’s a gateway project,” Hoyt said. “The importance and focus we have on the street, the Main Street streetscape and creating a pedestrian-friendly environment is very important.”
The third floor of the building is strictly for resident amenities and includes an infinity pool, social center, Jacuzzi, spa, a yoga room, a tennis court and a putting green.
The fourth level will house two two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom apartments that include a den at approximately 2,000 square feet apiece.
Although the fifth floor could contain the same type of apartments, floors six through 18 of the building will house 4,080-square-foot apartments with four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. Those models include two master suites. Price points have not been set for the units, yet.
All of the apartments will have 11-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass.
“We will maximize views to Sarasota Bay, City Island, Longboat Key, Siesta Key and all of downtown that are unparalleled when compared to other downtown condos,” Mannausa said.
Mannausa said two of the apartments are already spoken for: “When I land 10 sales contracts, I’m No. 11 and my mom and dad are No. 12,” Mannausa said. “Then we will get our building permit.”
Mannausa is hopeful the project could begin construction in the summer of 2013, the same time the Downtown Improvement District and the city hope to begin a Main Street streetscape project.
It will take approximately 16 months from construction to the building receiving its certificate of occupancy, Mannausa said.
“We’re ready to go and I’m very excited about a project that will inject more life into downtown Sarasota,” Mannausa said.
Title: President of T. Mannausa & Co.; practicing real estate since 1978; completed more than 50 real-estate developments.
Hometown: East Lansing, Mich.
Local presence: Moved to Longboat Key in 1980 fulltime
Interesting fact: Mannausa is in the final stages of completing a new song and negotiating with a record label to bring it to market. Mannausa collaborated on the song with musician Rick Derringer and his wife, Jenda. Derringer and his band, The McCoys, recorded “Hang on Sloopy” in the summer of 1965, the No. 1 song in America at that time.