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Rosemary project continues advancement

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 16, 2014
The property at 1440 Boulevard of the Arts has sat vacant for years as the city has sought a catalyst project for the land to stimulate redevelopment in the Rosemary District.
The property at 1440 Boulevard of the Arts has sat vacant for years as the city has sought a catalyst project for the land to stimulate redevelopment in the Rosemary District.
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A $20 million mixed-use project planned for the Rosemary District continues to navigate the development process, while a new overlay district promoting redevelopment becomes a reality.

Sarasota city commissioners unanimously approved a purchase and sale agreement for Rosemary Square Monday, which includes the sale of city-owned land on the 1400 block of Boulevard of the Arts and Fifth Street for $1.05 million to the developer. The contract mandates a redevelopment agreement between the city and Rosemary Square LLC within 120 days, and for construction to start 30 days after closing.

“In that redevelopment agreement we get into details and milestones of the project,” said Sarasota Chief Planner Ryan Chapdelain.

Those include the type of permitted uses for the property, if and how many phases in which construction will be conducted and other development constraints.

The development team, led by Mark Kauffman, plans to build 40 urban apartments “affordable as rental units for young professionals,” 34,000 square feet of a mixture of retail, office and arts space and a 7,000-square-foot town square. Rosemary Square will also include 40 parking spaces, according to the firm’s invitation to negotiate documents.

Rosemary Square stakeholders have stressed an emphasis on arts in the development, and have initial plans for a boutique cinema or live theater company.

The residential units will range from 500 square foot studios to 1,200 apartments, according to the ITN.

Commissioner Susan Chapman said when the redevelopment agreement is finalized, she wants to pursue checks to ensure the proposed apartments remain as rental units.

The group was the only respondent to the city’s invitation to negotiate, issued last summer for the city-owned property at 1440 Boulevard of the Arts and 1433 Fifth St. Kauffman said in a previous interview with the Sarasota Observer the group wanted to do something spectacular to jump-start development in the area, knowing that they were taking a chance.

Rosemary Square estimates the project will create nearly 300 jobs and more than $300,000 in annual property tax revenues.

“This is really a risky venture,” Kauffman said. “This is not Palm Avenue. This is not downtown. We’re looking to be the seminal project here to stimulate the entire district.”

Commissioners also unanimousy approved the Rosemary Residential Overlay District, which allows residential density of 75 units per acre within a specific portion within the Rosemary District — three times greater than the previous cap of 25 units per acre. The move paves way for another large catalyst project within the blighted area.

A private developer, Rosalyne Holdings LLC, proposed the R-ROD and plans to develop about 450 apartments on 6.2 acres along Cocoanut Avenue.

Planning consultant Joel Freedman, who represented Rosalyne, said the apartments within the project are aimed at young professionals, with prices estimated at $1.25 to $1.50 per square foot. And unlike downtown apartments, the density would allow the developer to provide amenities, such as a pool and fitness center.

"It will act as a true catalyst for the rosemary district, which we all know we need," Freedman said.

There is a four-year sunset for developers to take advantage of the new density rules.

"This is exactly what we've been wanting," said Commissioner Shannon Snyder. 


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