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Mixed-Use Quay Sarasota Development Receives Final City Approval




After the start of the New Year, a year-long process of design and permitting for the project's infrastructure will commence.

Following years of planning, the enormous mixed-use Quay Sarasota Development Project, finally won city approval. A potential $1 billion undertaking, the site will combine commercial, residential, and office buildings. Over the next decade, the once long-vacant site will undergo a significant transformation, to enhance the downtown waterfront area, attracting more businesses, city residents, and benefiting the local economy.

Mixed-Use Quay Sarasota Development receives Final City Approval

Originally built in the 1980's the Sarasota Quay fell vacant and was torn down ten years ago, in 2006. Now, the 15 acre site is scheduled to become an immense project, lead by Greenpointe Communities. Along with the approval of Quay Sarasota are a slew of new initial design and permitting work. These will involve, among many other projects, water, sewer, and road infrastructure changes and updates.

"We're excited to be in the city of Sarasota at this point in time. You really get the sense that something's happening here and that the city's at a pivotal place," Greenpointe regional president Rick Harcrow told ABC 7 News in mid-spring of this year.

As part of the new development, GreenPointe Properties is required to enter into the permitting process with the Florida Department of Transportation within the month. The long-planned two-lane roundabout to eventually be located at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road, will serve as the main gateway to the development.

Most of the initial efforts will happen over the course of late next year, in 2017, and continue into early 2018, explains Rick Harcrow, regional president of GreenPointe Communities. The large-scale project will take about ten years to be fully developed, combining commercial, residential, office, and hospitality.

Currently, the general approval for the site allows the developer to build up to 695 condominiums, 175 hotel rooms, 189,5000 square feet of retail space, almost 39,000 square feet of office space, in different buildings, rising up to 18 stories. In addition, the initial approval gives calls for the development to occur in nine "blocks" or phases. Each block will be reviewed and considered at public hearings due to the unique design of each building.

The first blocks or phases will probably begin on the site's southwest corner and along the southern edge of the property. These should include approximately 100 condo units which will overlook the bay, right alongside new retail and office spaces, according to the attorney working with GreenPointe Properties, Charlie Bailey.

The project's "waterfront district" will include a public plaza, retail stores, and restaurants. This is supposed to follow the initial build of the first condominiums, either about the same time or soon thereafter. Over the following seven years, the rest of the project will go under construction, ramping up the development efforts.

But before any of the vertical build starts, the plan approved by the Sarasota City Commission, stipulates the historic Belle Haven Hotel to be restored at the center of the property. Additionally, there must be construction of many multi-use recreational trails, winding along U.S. 41, as well as the waterfront.

Within three years, construction of the roundabout also must commence, or start sooner, which largely depends on how fast the Florida Department of Transportation or FDOT, procurement or residential construction on the property begins.

The grand project first began when GreenPointe purchased the vacant property in 2014, for $27 million. The iconic development has been the recipient of robust stakeholder engagement, focusing on creating a huge amount of employment opportunities and business ventures, according to Business Review USA.

The project isn't without its critics, but does hold the potential to do much for the community, bringing more beauty and commerce to the area. Moreover, considerations to plan and build more connectivity to the north and south are part of the general agreement, as construction happens over the next several years. Possible improvements are bike trails and other resident and visitor amenities.

What's interesting about the Sarasota Quay project is its general development method. It represents the first of its kind in the city of Sarasota, approved by the commission. Traditionally, such a project would require a specific site plan. The reason for the change is due largely to logistics. City planners and City Attorney Robert Fournier both state for development of such a grand size, specific site plans are simply impractical. This is why the project is set to be developed in "blocks" or phases, rather than through specific site plans. It also allows changes to be made as the project construction reaches milestones.

With the new process, the Sarasota City Commission is able to take under consideration each new planned block before construction begins. The commission granted formal approval to a measure which allows sites in the downtown zoning area larger than seven acres to go through the general development agreement process. City Attorney Fournier explains with this approval, any future developer of the Ringling Shopping Center to utilize the new process.