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Developer proposes 18-acre project in South Sarasota

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 18, 2013
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A Connecticut investment company is proposing to construct an 18-acre, mixed-use project in South Sarasota across from Westfield Sarasota Square Mall.

The county’s Development Review Committee (DRC) at a meeting Thursday, April 18, will review preliminary plans for the project, named Grande Bay.

Greenwich, Conn.,-based BMR Funding LLC submitted an application April 8 to the county’s planning department for the property it owns at 7914 S. Tamiami Trail.

Preliminary plans outline construction of a six-unit, 82,900-square-foot commercial shopping center fronting South Tamiami Trail — including a 45,800-square-foot anchor retail store and two restaurants, according to the application filed with the county.

As part of the Grande Bay development, BMR Funding also proposes to build 150,000 square feet of residential space south of the commercial component of the project. The residential development would be located south of Holiday Harbor, a neighborhood of single-family homes, and overlooking Little Sarasota Bay.

If the county’s Development Review Committee forwards the project at the April 18 meeting, county planners will then review more detailed plans, said Mary Stephens, land development coordinator with Sarasota County.

“It is 18 acres with 649 parking spaces, so it is not a small project,” Stephens said.

The property is zoned commercial general.

Previous owner Bayonne Investments LLC purchased the 18-acre parcel in 2005 for $16.7 million.

The property was then foreclosed on in May 2009, and Silverpoint Finance Group LLC (SPCP Group), a Delaware-based finance company, took over ownership.

BMR Funding is an affiliate of Silverpoint Finance.

BMR has become active in the region. Last month, the company sold a retail center in Rotonda West for $825,000 — at a $600,000 profit.

In other business
The DRC will consider the following items at the April 18 meeting:
• Turtle Beach Park Improvements, 8918 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key.
• A Matter Brothers Furniture store in the building that formerly housed a Sam Seltzer’s Steakhouse, 7113 S. Tamiami Trail. Applicant: Roland Dove.

When: 9 a.m. April 18
Where: 1001 Sarasota Center Blvd., Conference Room 2

The intersection of Beneva Road and Tamiami Trail has historically been a death trap for commercial activity.

Kmart vacated the property in 2008, and rumors about a Home Depot moving in proved false in 2010.
But, Benderson Development has started the revitalization of the shopping center at that juncture, called Beneva Pointe, and has submitted plans to do the same to another troubled property.

Hobby Lobby, a roughly 56,000-square-foot craft store, has committed to the shopping center. The location is a half-hour drive from the majority of Benderson projects, clustered near the future site of the Mall at University Town Center.

Pelican Plaza, a 108,000-square-foot shopping center across Tamiami Trail from Westfield Sarasota Square Mall, houses Beall’s Outlet as an anchor tenant and about five other leasees.

“They both have great visibility and they’re both distressed,” said Benderson Director of Development Todd Mathes. “Our proposal is to add to the site. We’ll basically tear off the entire façade of the building and sort of reinvent that shopping center.”

The firm bought the property May 15, 2012, for $4 million, and it will piggyback off of plans from the previous owner, Ramco-Gershershen Properties.

Beside Beall’s, the center houses Lucky Nails, Lan Pham Alterations, Plato’s Closet and a U.S. Army recruiting office.

Kash ’n’ Karry and Linens ’n’ Things were previous anchors.

Anchor tenants are generally larger retail or grocery stores that draw a consistent volume of customers. The traffic benefits adjacent smaller businesses in a shopping center.

But, if the ratio of small tenants to a single anchor is large, as it is at Pelican Plaza, the effect can fail to sustain the center.

Benderson plans to build out one side of the current shopping center by 40,000 square feet to make the Pelican Plaza a dual-anchor plaza.

“I think that’s probably what the center was lacking in the past,” Mathes said.
— Alex Mahadevan