The sale of the Longboat Key Center for the Arts site is final.
The site of the north end landmark, which opened in 1952 and closed in May, was purchased from Ringling College of Art and Design by developer Jim Clabaugh for $1.85 million. Clabaugh said he intends to build 12 single-family homes on the 2.3-acre site.
“We’re hoping construction of the first home will start in July,” Clabaugh said, though Town Commission approval will be required to subdivide the site into individual homesites.
The developer said the homes will be of a “coastal style,” conforming with both existing town codes and the character of other residences in the Key’s Longbeach Village neighborhood.
Clabaugh, a Key resident, has developed a number of projects on Longboat, including Tangerine Bay and Regent Place.
Clabaugh expects demolition of the arts center to begin within 10 days. He said he expects to be finished with the project in 24 to 30 months.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray said the site is zoned for residential use, so the project will not require referendum approval by Key voters.
Since March, north end resident group LBK North has been petitioning for the town to relocate a historic cottage from the Center for the Arts property. The cottage was built in the 1930s as part of the Whitney Resort.
Two such cottages are located on the property, and Clabaugh said he has chosen to give both to local resident Michael Drake, who intends to preserve them.
Drake declined to comment on his intentions for the cottages at this time.
Larry R. Thompson, president of Ringling College, announced the sale of the center in February, adding that “a major part” of the sale proceeds will go toward the development of a new arts facility: The Longboat Key Center for the Arts, Culture and Education, being planned at the mid-island site of the former Amore Restaurant, which closed earlier this month and plans to relocate to downtown Sarasota.
The town, the owner of the property, has already contributed $5 million toward construction of the center. The Longboat Key Foundation is working to raise $12 million to cover the remainder of construction costs.
Warren Simonds, the foundation’s task force chairman, expects the design process for the project will take eight to nine months, and the subsequent construction will take about 14 months, meaning the center could be complete within two years, though development will not begin until all funds are certain.
Simonds said the foundation is currently seeking a fundraising expert to assist in drafting a “battle plan” to raise the remaining cost.
“We want to do it the right way,” Simonds said.
Stephanie Lederer, a spokeswoman for Ringling, confirmed the college intends to “commit a substantial portion” of the sale’s proceeds to the new arts center, though the exact amount has not yet been determined.