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Sarasota Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 5 months ago

Players Centre strikes deal to sell Sarasota theater

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Players managing director says contract offer is more than the listing price of $9.5 million.

Michelle Bianchi, the managing director of The Players Centre for Performing Arts, said Tuesday her board has approved a contract to purchase its theater at 838 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

Bianchi said the terms of cash offer are confidential, but she said the amount was higher than the listing price of $9.5 million.

The Players Centre plans to build a $30 million complex in Lakewood Ranch’s new Waterside Place.

“We are now on track to build simultaneously with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch,” Bianchi said.

Bianchi said the buyer wishes to remain anonymous at this time. Jonathan Parks, a Sarasota architect working with the buyer, did not disclose when more information about the future of the property may become available.

Parks did say The Players Centre could have some presence on the site even after the sale, though he did not share specifics.

“Within the agreement, there is the ability for The Players to stay on in some capacity,” Parks said. “The folks looking to purchase very much want The Players to be successful — whether it’s here (on Tamiami Trail) or with SMR.”

The Players listed its theater property with Ian Black Real Estate in 2016.

The release said The Players Centre is forming a transition team to assist with vacating its current property in the summer of 2019. A temporary theater will be sought in Lakewood Ranch until the first phase of the new complex is complete. Waterside Place as a whole is expected to be open for business in 2020.

Before The Players Centre reached an agreement with the anonymous buyer, the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization had a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase the property, the group said at a meeting today. The organization hoped to incorporate the land into the ongoing effort to develop a master plan for redeveloping more than 50 acres of land owned by the city of Sarasota.

As recently as yesterday, the bayfront planning group believed it had the inside track to purchase the land. Still, the board expressed optimism that there would be synergy between the development of the bayfront and the Players Centre property.

“We’ve been told the intended purchaser truly intends for this to be developed in a way — and in concert with us — that is neighborly and thinks of the broader community,” said Cathy Layton, Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization board treasurer.

During today’s bayfront meeting, Parks said the purchaser would be interested in a continuing dialog with the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization about its plans for the property.

“With the team we’re assembling, it’s going to be very much in sympathy with the goals of the bayfront,” Parks said.

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