On Nov. 9, the project won site plan and minor conditional approval by a 3-2 vote of the Sarasota Planning Board, Chairman Terrill Salem and board member Kathy Kelley Olrich casting the dissenting votes. The project includes 256 condominiums and 65,448 square feet of office and retail space. The private racquet club includes 17 tennis courts, a pool and 12 indoor pickleball courts. With the retail and office component, it’s intended as a complete live-work-play community.
A principal in Sarasota-based Halflants + Pichette, the architecture firm leading the design of the project, Planning Board member Michael Halflants was recused from the discussion. Sarasota Springs LLC acquired the property, located behind Trader Joe’s, at 2170 Robinhood St. in January 2022 for $15.35 million.
Included is one-acre park, dog park and exercise trail surrounding the property, all available to the public. A restaurant exclusively for use of the club members is also included.
Condos will be offered in 84 one-, 112 two- and 51 three-bedroom models ranging from 700 to 2,200 square feet. Of the one-bedroom models, 15% will be offered as attainable housing. They will include the same floor plans and finishes as the market rate units, and will be scattered throughout the community. A percentage of the condos will be held by the developer as rentals and may be sold individually at a later date.
“The applicant did a pretty amazing job at revitalizing something that's been in our community for 50 years, making it better and continuing to connect to the community, which is what Bath & Racquet has done for a long time,” said Planning Board member Damien Blumetti. “They've done a pretty good job of addressing potential issues with the prior site plan.”
Prior site plans, proposed by different owners and design firms, that were rejected included one with a nine-story building and another with a five-story building. Bath & Racquet is surrounded by single-family residential on three sides, and by Trader Joe’s to the west. The approved low-rise plan is more compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, project architect Tara Williams told the Planning Board, and the mixed-use plan provides a transition from the commercial use along Tamiami Trail to the single-family homes.
With Salem and Olrich expressing concerns over some lingering unknowns about the project, board member Daniel Clermont said the time to move on the approval is now. In previous stages, the project had received unanimous approval from the Planning Board.
“I love the project,” Clermont said. “Anybody who has walked that property as it exists now will acknowledge it is an eyesore and even an embarrassment for the city. … They’ve stepped forward to right a blight in our city and I'm afraid if we keep pushing back they might say we're going fold the tent here, put some commercial buildings in there and heck with it.”
According to materials supplied to the Planning Board, condominium sales are expected to begin soon. Foundation plans are now before city staff for consideration.
Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.