More than two years after it was closed amid the onset of COVID-19, the reimagining of the shuttered Bath & Racquet Club in southern Sarasota is inching closer to reality.
A resubmittal hearing before the city’s Development Review Committee last week addressed most of the remaining technical matters and, pending sign-off with individual committee members on final details, is on track to appear before the Planning Board in October or November.
Because the application is a site plan with minor conditional use, it is not required to go before the City Commission.
Under the new ownership of Sarasota Springs LLC, a joint venture between Federal Finance Group and Silver Sky Global Capital, architect Michael Halflants — himself a member of the Planning Board — is leading the design efforts of the project. It will incorporate the prior use of the 13.43-acre property, which will be enveloped by a mixed-use development of 256 residential rental units — 33 of the attainable housing — and 65,000 square feet of commercial and retail space situated behind Trader Joe’s on Tamiami Trail at Robinhood Street.
Rather than tearing it down, the project will not only revive the club, it is intended to benefit the surrounding neighborhood by replacing the dilapidated facility with a modern, mixed-use development.
“The design of the Bath & Racquet Club creates a community in which one can live, work, and play in,” reads text from the project’s submission. “The project also proposes a one-acre public park as well as a public trail that stretches 1 kilometer around the site. These amenities are intended to embed this new development into the existing residential neighborhood, providing a public amenity for the larger community.”
The ownership of the project was unavailable for comment.
Planned club amenities include 16 tennis courts, three of them elevated above parking, along with 12 indoor and four outdoor pickleball courts. There will be an outdoor pool for the club and a new indoor fitness center. Built in 1969, the club had 29 courts when it closed, along with several racquetball courts.
The apartments, which will front two sides of the tennis complex, will have a pool, dog park, public park and playground. The pedestrian trail wrapping around the development will connect to the adjacent Mill Terrace community.
The project encountered several challenges since it was first proposed by then-owner Mark Lucas in May 2020. The greatest obstacle was an effort to swap commercial square footage for additional residential units, which Halflants repeatedly contended to those concerned about traffic would result in fewer vehicle trips onto the site.
Lucas acquired the club site in 2020. The Sarasota City Commission denied his first attempt at rezoning the property later that same year. Lucas teamed with Halflants’ firm, Halflants + Pichette, submitting a new plan in 2021, which was unanimously approved last November.
In January 2022, Lucas sold the property to its new owners for $15.35 million, nearly tripling its value. Federal Finance has offices in New York, London and Windermere, which is in western Orange County. Silver Sky Global Capital has offices in London and New York.