With last week’s unanimous approval of the Sarasota Planning Board, a pair of twin, but not identical, apartment developments are coming to North Tamiami Trail. The board unanimously approved Sapphire North and Sapphire South, which combined will bring 120 apartments to the North Trail Overlay District.
The matter was continued from Oct. 12 because Hurricane Ian prevented city staff from placing signs announcing the hearing in advance of that meeting. Jarzi Realty Advisors plans to build Sapphire North at 4501 and 4415, and Sapphire South at 4229 and 4211 N. Tamiami Trail, both on property cleared of prior buildings and adjacent to the Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores neighborhood.
Sapphire North will be comprised of 61 units on 2.17 acres and Sapphire South 59 units on 2.05 acres, both conforming to the overlay district design standards of buildings adjacent to Tamiami Trail with parking and amenities in the rear. The buildings will be four stories.
There are no units in the affordable housing classification included in the projects.
“This is workforce housing. It’s not affordable,” said Brent Parker of the Sarasota architecture firm Parker Walter Group. "They paid full full boat retail for the property and so that opportunity wasn’t there.”
The two properties are separated by two blocks along the west side of U.S. 41. The projects will be similar in scope and architecture to another Jarzi development, Solle Apartments at North Tamiami Trail and 24th Street.
The new urbanism design concept of both projects pushes the buildings adjacent to the roadway and hides parking and amenities behind the structures. Such developments are incentivized in the North Trail Overlay District in part by requiring fewer parking spaces per unit in an effort to encourage transit-oriented redevelopment along U.S 41.
The two properties will average a combined 1.46 parking spaces per unit, nearly 50% more than the required one space per unit.
The reduced parking in the North Trail District was a topic of discussion among the Planning Board members who wondered if parking would spill over into adjacent neighborhood streets.
“I know that's part of new urbanism where we're looking to require fewer parking spaces to encourage people to walk and those who don't even have cars,” said Planning Board member Daniel Clermont. “What I want to know is have we had experience with that in the city and how is it going?”
While there isn’t enough experience in Sarasota to render an opinion on that, Senior Planner Dan Ohrenstein said the concept is incorporated across the country.
“It is commonplace in the city's historical neighborhoods such as Laurel Park and other areas to have one parking space per unit,” Ohrenstein said. “You can look at any historical district in America and they don't have two parking spaces per unit. It is part of the downtown code where we do have one parking space per unit, but most of the recent buildings that have been built have been luxury units and they haven't taken advantage of the one parking space per unit.”
In addition to parking, the developer addressed concerns about how the project will impact infrastructure, particularly storm drainage. Jarzi’s Marlon Matza said the redevelopment will enhance the streetscape and the drainage there.
“I look at (North Tamiami Trail) as the gateway to Sarasota,” Matza said. “I think it’s going to make such an improvement with respect to stormwater drainage. What's there now is there is no facility. We're going to be making a multi-million dollar improvement in stormwater capability that's going to dramatically improve the drainage condition, and the the buildings that we're going to build are only going to substantially improve the property values in the area.”
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.