The Quay Sarasota Project – Potential to Shift the Epicenter of Downtown Sarasota

Quay Sarasota ProjectWith nearly 700 high-end residences and more than 200,000 square feet of commercial, retail and restaurant space spread over 15 acres, the Quay Sarasota project has the potential to shift the very epicenter of downtown Sarasota.

In addition to the roughly $1 billion investment master developer GreenPointe Holdings anticipates, the Quay property also benefits from pending upgrades to a 52-acre, municipally owned site adjacent to it.

The 52-acre “The Bay” project also is likely only to enhance, rather than compete, with GreenPointe’s offerings. That’s because city leaders and planners have mandated that the property be devoid of commercial space and condos and be improved with open space and event-driven amenities.

Taken together, the Quay and the Bay could easily alter where tourists and residents alike dine, congregate, shop and play when each reach critical build out a decade from now.

But Edward Burr, GreenPointe’s president and CEO, believes that even after the Quay’s six planned towers, embedded retail and restaurants and connected entertainment space are completed, the project won’t compete directly with the city’s historic downtown that was created in the 1920s.

“I view the Quay Sarasota as merely an extension of the city’s downtown,” says Burr. “I don’t see it shifting the focus of downtown; I expect it will simply complement what’s there, the existing entertainment and restaurants.

To date, two vertical developments have been announced for Quay Sarasota: a luxury, 73-unit condo tower being developed by The Kolter Group, and a 241-unit apartment tower by a division of homebuilder Lennar Corp.

The 18-story Ritz-Carlton Residences, where some units are being marketed for as much as $8 million, is under construction now and is slated for delivery late next year.

Lennar Multifamily’s planned 11-story apartment complex has yet to be formally approved by city officials. The $150 million project, which is slated to break ground sometime in the second quarter of next year, will require about 24 months to build, Burr says.

Like Water Street Tampa, the $3 billion project in Tampa that will encompass 53 acres in that city’s downtown and Westshore Marina District between St. Petersburg and Tampa, another 52-acre, mixed-use development that will be a ground-up neighborhood of high-end residences, shops, restaurants and amenities, Quay Sarasota could transform the urban core of Sarasota through critical mass alone.

The associated commercial space also is expected to have a profound impact. GreenPointe has retained commercial real estate brokerage firm The Shopping Center Group to oversee Quay leasing.

Burr says he expects the next ground-up development, following the Ritz-Carlton Residences and the Lennar apartments, will either be a “condo project with a higher-end price point or a hotel, or both.”

Quay Sarasota is entitled for a 175-room hotel. That component likely wouldn’t debut until the close of 2022 or the first half of 2023, he says. The bulk of the Quay development is expected to be completed by the end of 2025, Burr believes.

And even as the vertical projects progress, other development is slated to occur on the site, which is adjacent to a 266-room Ritz-Carlton Sarasota hotel.

GreenPointe has pledged to install a marina and a one-acre park within the project, and state transportation officials are planning a traffic calming roundabout at North Tamiami Trail and Fruitville Road, at the Quay’s entrance. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

An internal main street, Quay Commons, is on tap to be ready by the first quarter of 2021, as well.

Although Quay Sarasota is perhaps GreenPointe’s most urban project at present, it isn’t the Jacksonville-based company’s only Gulf Coast endeavor.

In Tampa, GreenPointe is developing Triple Creek, a 990-acre master-planned community with more than 2,000 homesites, and Belmont, a 930-acre community with more than 2,000 residences and 180,000 square feet of commercial space.

In Lakeland, the company is building Bridgewater, a 700-acre tract slated for more than 860 homesites and commercial space.

And in Fort Myers, GreenPointe is working on Hampton Lakes, a 413-acre project planned for more than 400 homes and River Hall, a 1,500-acre property scheduled to contain roughly 2,000 homes.

“Our core competency is developing communities with a sense of place,” says Burr. “We work hard to balance the economic realities of a place with the demands of that particular marketplace.”

Business Observer October 25, 2019

Local Resorts Make Condé Nast Traveler’s 2019 List

top resortsThree local resorts have been honored by Condé Nast Traveler readers as part of the magazine’s readers’ choice list of the top 30 resorts in Florida.

The Zota Beach Resort, Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and The Resort at Longboat Key Club all made the magazine’s 2019 list released this week. Condé Nast Traveler readers voted their favorite Florida resorts outside of the Keys and the Orlando area to make the rankings.

The Zota Beach Resort at 4711 Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key snagged the list’s 15th spot. The hotel, formerly known as the the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort, underwent renovations and added a new 84-room tower in 2018.

The name “Zota” was unveiled in 2015, and at the time owner Ocean Properties explained the name change like this:

“Zota is believed to be a native word meaning ‘blue waters.’ The word ‘zara’ may be a Spanish reference to Sahara-like sands, and as the name of the area evolved over time, Longboat Key and the surrounding area became known as ‘Zara Zota,’” or “Sahara by the blue waters.”

“It is an honor to receive this recognition from Condé Nast Traveler readers. Our team is proud of this recognition and hope to continue exceeding expectations every day,” Roy Padgett, general manager of Zota Beach Resort, said in an emailed statement. “We are incredibly thankful for our guests and want to ensure a memorable experience happens with every visit.”

Also on the list is the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota at No. 18. The Ritz, a luxury hotel in downtown Sarasota overlooking the bay, has 266 guest rooms, a private beach on Lido Key, a spa, a golf club, about 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, a 12,000-square-foot ballroom (the largest in Sarasota) and two restaurants — Jack Dusty and Ridley’s Porch.

The Resort at Longboat Key Club came in at No. 20. The resort, just north of St. Armands Circle at 220 Sands Point Road, has 218 guest rooms and suites, a spa, on-site dining, tennis and golf.

The No. 1 resort on the Condé Nast List is the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa.

Other nearby resorts on the list are:

Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande (No. 3)

the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina in Fort Myers (No. 4)

Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach (No. 8)

The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach (No. 9)

LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples (No. 14)

The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club (No. 19)

Sarasota Herald-Tribune October 9, 2019

Sarasota Bayfront Project Progress

City approves bayfront conservancy agreement

Sarasota BayfrontBay Park Conservancy plans to build out the bayfront project over the next 15 to 20 years.

In a unanimous vote, the City Commission approved an agreement outlining a partnership with a private group that will be responsible for leading a public park project on more than 50 acres of city-owned bayfront land.

City staff drafted the partnership agreement alongside The Bay Park Conservancy, a nonprofit formed specifically to oversee the implementation of the bayfront master plan the city approved in September. The Bay Park Conservancy’s leaders include members of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, the group responsible for producing the master plan after holding a series of community workshops.

Monday’s vote came after more than two hours of input from commissioners and the public. Questions at the meeting focused on aspects of the partnership concerning financial obligations, community representation, dispute resolution and transparency.

At the end of its discussion, the commission felt comfortable moving forward alongside The Bay Park Conservancy on the development of the waterfront around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

“I think it’s a great start to a very fruitful partnership for not only the city, but the community,” Commissioner Hagen Brody said.

City Attorney Robert Fournier worked to revise the partnership agreement to address concerns raised at a March commission meeting. Fournier said his priorities included clearly outlining the city’s oversight authority and funding obligations should the commission adopt the agreement.

Conservancy Agreement

The agreement creates a phased approach for approving different elements of the project. The conservancy is responsible for creating an implementation plan for each phase that includes details on design and funding projections. The City Commission must approve an implementation plan before obtaining other development approvals and beginning construction on each phase.

The conservancy must provide an updated financial plan for the project on an annual basis. The conservancy will be responsible for negotiating leases and creating a naming rights policy for elements of the park project, but the commission must approve those documents before they go into effect.

The agreement includes an initial term of 15 years with two 15-year extensions. Either party would have the opportunity to terminate the agreement by providing written notice ahead of a scheduled extension.

The partnership agreement includes some provisions pertaining to the city’s financial commitments for the project. City responsibilities include providing “all basic infrastructure” and “municipal services and routine maintenance to the site.” The agreement lists examples of those responsibilities, including streets, sidewalks, utility service, waste collection and landscape maintenance. The city would also be responsible for constructing a parking garage on the site if one is incorporated into the project.

Project Cost Provision

Fournier said the agreement was structured so the city would only have to allocate additional money toward those causes as each phase of the project is approved. Still, he said he did not want to minimize the scale of the city’s commitment as it proceeds with a project expected to cost up to $200 million.

“We shouldn’t kid ourselves; this is a massive undertaking,” Fournier said. “… I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. It’s just factual.”

Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie asked about the financial information the conservancy planned on providing as it sought approval for each phase. Conservancy representatives said the implementation plans would include a breakdown of intended private and public funding sources.

After some members of the public suggested the city should not approve construction until the conservancy had collected the money necessary to proceed with a given phase, conservancy board member Jennifer Compton said the group would be careful about putting together its budgets.

“We’re not anticipating using funding that we’re not pretty confident is coming in,” Compton said.

Conservancy Board

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said she was concerned about the city’s inability to appoint voting members to the conservancy’s board. The agreement states the conservancy will include between 7 and 15 members, including three non-voting members. The city would appoint two non-voting members, and Sarasota County would appoint the third.

Although conservancy representatives said there would be other avenues for input, Ahearn-Koch advocated for the active, explicit inclusion of a broad cross-section of the community on the board.

“I think it’s essential the citizen’s voice is represented on the board, and a voting voice,” Ahearn-Koch said.


Despite those questions, all five commissioners voted to approve the partnership agreement, which will include some revisions Fournier drafted today ahead of the meeting. Throughout the discussion, conservancy officials attempted to assure the commission — and the community — the group would be acting in the public’s interest as it leads the development of a landmark civic destination.

“Going forward, this is only going to succeed if this is a true partnership,” Compton said.

Observer Sarasota April 14, 2019

Bayside Club Expands Sarasota’s Resort-Style Urban Living

Bayside ClubRosemary District’s Bayside Club has started preconstruction sales

The desire for the luxury lifestyle in an urban setting shows no signs of subsiding.

The fences are up, some construction materials lay on the ground and a pint-sized excavator sits nearby, but condominium sales are underway at The Bayside Club, the Rosemary District’s next big thing.

Across May Lane inside CitySide, the Bayside sales studio hums with inquiries and appointments. Following the success of their upscale CitySide apartment complex — the 228 residences are fully leased — Bayside’s developers aim to again produce an urban resort-style lifestyle.

Surprising Affordability
With The Mark and BLVD still under construction; selling well — but mostly more expensive, Bayside intends to carve out a niche with a boatload of amenities for owners of the 242 one- to three-bedroom residences. Bayside condos top out at around $900,000; The Mark prices start in the $800,000 range and BLVD’s units begin at $1.9 million.

During a Thursday interview inside the sales studio — a CitySide apartment that has been equipped with Bayfront’s upscale finishes — Josh Weiner, principal of the Longboat Group, Bayside’s developer, explained:

“We’ve built a program with the goal basically to let people spend more time doing the things they love and enjoy in this great Sarasota lifestyle and not have to worry about all the things that are not so fun to deal with.”  The concept is ultimately carefree living, he said. Signature Club Services fill most of the 32-page Baysider Handbook, the complex’s bible, Weiner said.

“What we really heard from folks is they really want that resort-style living but they don’t want to be out in the suburbs, they want to be downtown,” he said. “And we’re really fortunate that we’ve got this large piece of property right downtown where we can program and build in all these amenities.”

Bayside’s amenities cover more than 50,000 square feet. The rooftop terrace sports an enclosed kitchen and lounge. The pool and cabana courtyard offers lap lanes, volleyball area and grilling stations. The zen lanai and pavilion features an Asian garden-style courtyard. Fitness and yoga studios with a state-of-the-art gym host all manner of classes and wellness programs. The pet activity park offers play and water stations.

The club will be anchored by the May Lane Plaza, where streetside restaurants, a marketplace and shops will serve residents and visitors alike as well as a members-only club lounge and bar.

Shuttle transportation for residents is available — to the beach, golf course, airport, downtown, anywhere. “Folks don’t have to worry about driving and parking,” Weiner said.

A Saturday buffet breakfast is served, and the coffee bar offers espresso, lattes, fresh fruit and snacks. Fitness classes, social activities, card games, water volleyball, wine tasting, nature outings, dance classes, educational lectures, pickleball clinics, trivia contests — these are some of the things that fill a jam-packed monthly calendar.

The Bayside Club is designed to free residents from the worries and work of traditional home ownership. Got a leaky faucet? Call the front desk and the on-site maintenance team will make the repairs, Weiner said. “That’s very different from what you typically get in the condo work,” he said.

The “worry free maintenance” benefit includes special assessment assurance. Unlike regular condo homeowners associations able to levy special charges to repair and replace roofing, plumbing and electrical systems, not here. “We want to take the liability away from the residents for stuff that comes up and isn’t expected,” Weiner said.

There’s also a lifestyle concierge to help arrange pet care, housekeeping, dry-cleaning and more; universal internet and smart home capabilities. Each residence is wired to be a sophisticated “smart home” with residents able to control the thermostat, security system and even lighting from their phones. There is also a “Rent and Relax” program where condo owners can lease their units for minimum of four months, and Bayside will take care of advertising, background screening and collecting.

Build-out is anticipated in the spring 2021. Phased move-in for buyers starting in the fall of 2020 with the completion of phase one.

The developer is also providing a “Stay Close at CitySide” option. Buyers can reside at CitySide as units become available while their home is being constructed; complimentary access to “Adventure Vehicle” for kayak and paddleboard excursions; and access to all special events and activities to get to know future neighbors.

Herald-Tribune Jan 31, 2019

20th Anniversary of The Sarasota Film Festival 2018 Lineup

Hollywood comes to town with the 2018 Sarasota Film Festival.

The Sarasota Film Festival has unveiled its 2018 lineup, which will include Eric Stoltz’s coming-of-age comedy “Class Rank” as the opening-night film. In addition, Oscar-nominated documentarian Rory Kennedy’s “Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow” will serve as the closing night film.

The festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary, also will honor Steve Guttenberg and Virginia Madsen with career achievement awards during the closing weekend.

“We are very excited to bookend the festival with two unique and groundbreaking films from two brilliant and creative directors,” said Mark Famiglio, chairman and president of the Sarasota Film Festival. “It is also an honor to recognize the contributions of Steve Guttenberg and Virginia Madsen to the film industry and celebrate their work from over the years.”

“Class Rank” will screen on April 13 at the Sarasota Opera House. The film revolves around two teenagers (Olivia Holt, Skyler Gisondo) who prepare for life after high school, teaming up to achieve their goals and make their dreams a reality. Kristin Chenoweth and Bruce Dern co-star. Director Stoltz, whose credits include “Mask,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Madam Secretary”, will be in attendance along with producer Sandy Stern.

Kennedy, whose “Last Days in Vietnam” was nominated for best feature documentary at the 2015 Academy Awards, also will be on hand for her film’s premiere on April 21 at the Sarasota Opera House. The film chronicles NASA’s accomplishments and its vital role in America’s future as the space agency celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Guttenberg will be honored for starring in more than 60 films across an array of genres, including “Diner,” “Cocoon,” the “Police Academy” movies and “Three Men and a Baby.” Guttenberg co-stars in “Chasing the Blues” — a comedy-drama about the search for a rare but cursed blues record — which will screen at the festival.

For her part, Madsen will receive a career achievement award for her Oscar-nominated role in Alexander Payne’s Sideways as well as her work in such films as “The Rainmaker,” “Ghosts of Mississippi,” “Joy” and TV’s “Designated Survivor.” The actress co-stars in the drama “1985″ — about a young man’s fears of coming out to his family in the early days of the AIDS crisis — which also will screen at the festival.

Centerpiece films include the Sundance coming-of-age tale “Eighth Grade,” directed by comedian Bo Burnham, who will attend the screening.

The Mister Rogers and Elvis Presley documentaries “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “The King” will have spotlight screenings, as will film festival darlings such as “The Rider,” “Lean on Pete” and “Hearts Beat Loud.”

The documentary competition roster features “Generation Wealth,” a reflection on modern society and wealth by “The Queen of Versailles” filmmaker Lauren Greenfield. Documentaries screening out of competition include “RBG,” about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and “Bisbee ’17″ by Robert Greene, who previously directed the film “Kate Plays Christine” about Sarasota television reporter Christine Chubbuck.

Narrative films screening out of competition include Paul Schrader’sFirst Reformed,” Claire Denis’Let the Sunshine In” and Lucrecia Martel’sZama,” all of which earned great acclaim touring the film festival circuit, and Sundance entries such as “American Animals” and “Come Sunday.”

Many of these films fall under five Sarasota Film Festival “focuses”: Sports in Cinema, Women’s Comedic Voices, Redefining Manhood, Musings on Musicians, and Environment, Science and Sustainability.

“In honor of our 20th anniversary, we have programmed a lineup that celebrates the past, present, and future of the Sarasota Film Festival that is sure to delight our dedicated and passionate audiences,” the festival’s chairman and president Mark Famiglio said in a statement. “The selection includes a diverse group of narratives and voices that will create engaging conversations about today’s most important topics.”

Hollywood Reporter – March 16, 2018, Sarasota Herald Tribune – March 21, 2018

Warhol Exhibit at Selby Gardens

Warhol Exhibit Selby Gardens

Conservatory Selby Gardens

Warhol Exhibit at Selby Gardens

Warhol: Flowers in the Factory show, opens Feb. 11 and runs through June 30, 2018.

The exhibit, which highlights Warhol’s connection to nature (perhaps unexpected for many fans of the Pop art icon, who know him from soup cans and celebrities), carries on the theme of living art that has also been a focus of previous shows at the gardens, including one devoted to Marc Chagall. This one (curated by Carol Ockman) first takes viewers into the Conservatory, where the horticultural team has assembled a huge wall/grid of bromeliads echoing Warhol’s frequent repetition of imagery. You can actually take time to sit and enjoy that and other plant exhibits on a white couch in a sunken living room replica nearby.

On the grounds of the gardens, the Selby staff has also assembled a collection of epiphytic plants adorning a white frame backed by colored squares, while another frame, surrounded by large-scale hibiscus flowers created to complement Warhol’s own hibiscus images, bears the Warhol quote, “Land really is the best art.”

And inside the Museum of Botany and the Arts reside not only four colorful Warhol silkscreens of flowers, dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s (courtesy of Williams College Museum of Art), but poinsettia images and little-seen photographs of Warhol outdoors (albeit in a jacket and tie), on skis and even rowing a boat.

In addition, throughout the run of the show the “Food Factory,” in front of the Payne Mansion on the property, will serve items such as “Andy’s Pastrami on Rye” and a “Warhol Grilled Cheese,” along with salads, grain bowls and more.  For more information visit

Sarasota Magazine February 8, 2018

The Bay Project – Arts & Cultural District Downtown Sarasota

Plans are to transform the 42-acre city-owned area around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall into a Public arts and cultural district.

A new vision for the city-owned bayfront in the heart of downtown Sarasota will be delivered to, and ideally approved by, city officials as soon as mid-July 2018, according to the groups spearheading the project.

The ambitious timeline could complete the project after nearly two decades and an array of plans from the city and numerous civic groups most recently brought together under the Bayfront 20:20 umbrella.

Now called simply The Bay, the project turned a corner over the past two months when Boston-area planning firm Sasaki and former Kimley-Horn & Associates executive Bill Waddill were hired to lead the master plan process to transform the 42-acre city-owned area around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall into a Public arts and cultural district.

The group raised more than $2 million in private funding from local foundations and philanthropists for the master plan and held a series of “listening sessions” this week, including at the City Commission, before making the first major public presentation since Sasaki and Waddill joined the effort at a Herald-Tribune forum Wednesday.

“We are just kind of blown away by this opportunity and it’s just amazing,” said Susannah Ross, a senior associate with Sasaki working on the plan. “The water’s edge condition changes as you move through the site. I think there are so many possibilities for how to expand on that and experience the bay.”

Ross and Sasaki principal Martin Zorgan, an urban planner, presented the process by which their firm, partner firms and a team of local advisors on the nonprofit Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization will, over the next eight months, draft a master plan for the physical site and financing mechanisms that could pay for it.

“Who’s gonna pay for it?” Martin said. “Well, it’s a little bit of all the above. There’s philanthropic monies, there’s federal monies, there’s state monies, there’s local monies … what, if any, taxpayer monies go to it.

“We don’t want it to be a surprise … it’s not easy by any means, but it’s definitely doable and great things are worth doing.”

“The process will include studying the series of previous plans for the site, the Bayfront 20:20 ideas and the range of construction going on and planned around it — from the 18-story BLVD condominiums to the east to the massive Quay Sarasota project to the south and the series of roundabouts along U.S. 41 throughout the corridor,” Zorgan said.

Sasaki’s team will consider ways to draw visitors and residents alike to the new space with open areas, opportunities to interact with the bayfront and the buildings along the bayfront now, like the Van Wezel and the lawn bowling and garden clubs, Ross and Zorgan said.

The project is light on specifics about those plans and the financing, but those will develop as Sasaki returns for more feedback in February and then again in April. Draft plans will be presented in May and June.

“We haven’t done it yet, but one option is you in perpetuity establish the site as a Sarasota Land Trust or whatever and you govern it under certain standards,” said A.G. Lafley, chairman of the planning organization and former CEO of Proctor & Gamble. “I’m not making this up off the top of my head — this is done in cities across America and around the world.

“We’re not just going to show a fancy plan from Sasaki and Bill Waddill,” he continued. “We’re really going to work on the financing piece and government piece and the sustainability piece.”

Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie stressed to the group at its presentation to the commission Monday night that the public continue to be able to provide feedback on the versions of the plan as they develop.

Ultimately, the City Commission will have the final say on the plan, City Planning Director Steve Cover said during the forum.

“It needs to provide accessibility to the water, it needs to be accessible to everyone, it needs to be accessible across (U.S.) 41 and it needs to be a transparent process,” Cover said. “Those are the things we’ll be focusing on. Plus when we get to the end we’ll have to address any regulatory problems involved.”

“The goal is a master plan that represents, as I said, what the community needs and wants that’s executable because we can afford it we can do it and it’s environmentally sustainable,” Lafley added later. “Ultimately the city controls the land.”

Herald Tribune December 6, 2017

Things to Do in Downtown Sarasota

Sarasota Magazine – April 2017

Art, culture, outdoor adventures and more–downtown Sarasota has it all.

Things to Do in Downtown Sarasota


Stroll Historic Burns Square

In this charming enclave of 1920s bungalows, shops and restaurants, you can take in a foreign flick at Burns Court Cinemas, enjoy jazz at Burns Court Café, and treasure-hunt in the boutiques, galleries and antique shops.

Stop and smell the flowers at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens shelters more than 20,000 plants and some of the rarest orchids in the world. There’s a Tropical Conservatory and kids’ rainforest garden, too. The Garden Shop offers plants and gifts. 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-5731,

Listen to music at The Gator Club

Downstairs at The Gator Club, the joint is jumping with live rhythm and blues, top 40 and reggae. The upstairs bar is more tranquil, with 180 varieties of whiskeys. 1490 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 366-5969,

Walk (or run or bike) the Ringling Bridge

Join the runners, walkers and cyclists making their way over the John Ringling Causeway bridge. This 60-foot-high span commands spectacular views of downtown Sarasota and Sarasota Bay. And you can get bait (and beer) at Hart’s Landing beneath the bridge and fish from the T.J. “Tony” Saprito Fishing Pier. 920 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 955-0011,

See world-class opera at Sarasota Opera House

The company presents four operas in its February-March winter season, plus a fall performance in October-November, along with recitals and concerts. Also home to a youth opera. 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 328-1300,

Take in the art at Art Center Sarasota

Art Center Sarasota is celebrating its 90th birthday this year. This season features seven juried exhibitions and, with three separate galleries, there’s plenty to see. 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 365-2032,

Get in touch with nature at Sarasota Children’s Garden

Little ones can get in touch with nature and play on fun installations at this lovely two-acre oasis. Check out the daily organized art and gardening classes. 1670 10th Way, Sarasota, (941) 330-1711, 

Visit local artists in Towles Court

Towles Court’s third Friday art walks allow gallery-goers to peek into artists’ studios after hours and get to know local makers firsthand. There’s often live entertainment and refreshments, too.

Play at Payne Park

A big, bright, happy red and yellow circus-themed playground where kids climb, swing, jump and slide to their hearts’ content. There’s a separate, tamer play area for toddlers, too, and for tweens and teens, the city skateboard park is right next door. 2100 Adams Lane, Sarasota

Take in a show at Florida Studio Theatre

With five theaters downtown under its umbrella, FST presents four mainstage shows, three cabaret shows, a summer season and improv performances. 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-9000,

Laugh your a** off at McCurdy’s

McCurdy’s packs in the crowds for comics both known (Tom Arnold, Jon Lovitz) and unknown (frequent open mic nights for the aspiring laugh getter). 1923 Ringling Blvd., (941) 925-3869,

Get into the groove at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

Now 17 years old, this company produces musicals, revues, dramas and comedies related to the African-American experience. 1646 10th Way, Sarasota, (941) 366-1505,

Watch the best indie films at Burns Court Cinemas

At our own little downtown arthouse cinema, you can satisfy your thirst for international films and a cold beer or glass of wine at the same time. 506 Burns Court, (941) 955-3456,

Catch national touring acts at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

The city’s bayfront hall presents a full season of touring Broadway shows, orchestras, dance, comedy, pop music and more, mostly October-April. 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 953-3368,

Sit back, relax and enjoy a show at The Players

This long-running (now in its 87th season) community theater presents seven mainstage productions, mostly musicals, along with a summer season. 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 365-2494,

Watch the sunset at Bayfront Park

TBH, it’s a perfect spot to relax any time of day, thanks to its waterfront location, playground, perfect-for-picnics grassy lawn, dog-friendly sidewalks and proximity to O’Leary’s Tiki Bar. But we’re partial to this popular park at sunset, where we recommend sitting back on a bench or a swing and watching the sun dip below the horizon, with the silhouette of the Ringling Bridge in the distance.

Sarasota Luxury Market Overview

sarasota luxury


Sarasota Luxury Real Estate Market

Trying to put all of the pieces together to formulate a comprehensive Sarasota Luxury Real Estate Report has proven challenging. From new construction and global economic factors, to area tourism and mortgage rates… Here’s what we know:

  • Inventory Levels are Up
  • Luxury Property Sales are Taking Longer
  • New Construction is A Contributing Factor

Current Condo Inventory

According to the Realtor® Association of Sarasota and Manatee April report, Sarasota County is reflecting a 6-month supply of condos, indicating a buyer’s market. As the condo construction continues, the inventory levels are anticipated to inch up.

Luxury Market Zip Code 34236
Condos (April 15, 2017) $1M-$5M

82 Properties on the Market
259 Average Days on the Market

Sold Condos 34236
January 1 – April 15, 2017 $1M-$5M

33 Properties Sold
111 Average Days on the Market


Cities with booming luxury markets are attracting high-income buyers seeking a place to live, work and grow their families. Transient and investment luxury buyers have shown much less interest in the close of 2016, and continuing into the first quarter of 2017. Twenty seventeen is also indicating a surge of starter home purchases, versus eager investors.

Stock Market Gains

The stock market gains have done very little to move the overall prices in the luxury real estate market.  The average luxury home prices were flat in the final quarter or 2016, which appears to be carrying over into the first quarter of 2017.

The Impact of Tourism

Visit Sarasota County is also reporting relatively no increases in the number of visitors arriving in Sarasota for 2017, following years of setting visitor records. According to the organization’s president, the slowdown in Sarasota County is largely the result of the European markets. “The number of travelers to Sarasota County from the United Kingdom, Central Europe and other international markets is down 7 percent, 21.3 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.” “Domestic markets are growing or holding their own, but the international pullback is taking a toll.”

Water Taxi – Downtown Sarasota Transportation Solutions

The Sarasota City Commission recently voted to conditionally approve a permit for a water taxi and ferry service between Sarasota and Bradenton Beach. Sherman Baldwin, general manager of Paradise Boat Tours, presented the water taxi and ferry plan and applied for a permit under Paradise’s parent company, TevaTan LLC, in early January. On Tuesday, the commission voted to approve the permit application with the following stipulations:

  • The water ferry’s Sarasota embarkation points will be determined within a period of six months from Tuesday; and
  • Baldwin will meet with Sarasota Bayfront 20:20, a long-term planning organization, to assure the Sarasota embarkation points have enough associated parking nearby.

Baldwin’s permit application was two-fold; to allow for a scheduled water ferry service as well as an “Uber-like” water taxi, on call via a mobile app that Baldwin said his company spent “thousands” developing.

Starting the water ferry service with the Bradenton Beach-Sarasota route made the most logistical sense, Baldwin said. “If we have one successful leg, it will make it really easy to justify the risk.”  “There’s a navigational plus to it, too; it’s kind of a straight shot. From the Bridge Street Pier, you can see downtown Sarasota.”

Come fall, Baldwin wants to start more water transport service that would ferry passengers between the downtown Bradenton Riverwalk, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. Baldwin is also involved in “informal conversations” to help orchestrate a water taxi service in association with the Bradenton Area Convention Center hotel, which is set to break ground on Sept. 18.

Planned Operation
The ferry will run from the Bridge Street Pier to one of three embarkation points in Sarasota. Baldwin provided three suggested points to the Sarasota City Commission, which has the ultimate say in which of the three will be chosen. The possible destinations include the T-dock at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill, the Marina Jack boat basin, or the Centennial Park boat basin. He favors the Centennial Park option, but for it to work, a sublease must be negotiated under the current lease between the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 84 and the city of Sarasota.

The water taxi service will operate daily at a round-trip ticket cost of $12.50, with passes available for locals who frequently travel between Sarasota and Bradenton Beach. The boat will have air conditioning and heating systems, two restrooms and a small coffee cafe. The seating will be covered, but Baldwin said there will be an outside area for passengers who want to enjoy the sea breeze.

“We don’t have plans right out of the gate to serve alcohol,” Baldwin said, but passengers are allowed to bring their own beverages and food on board.

Paradise Boat Tours
Paradise Boat Tours will celebrate its fifth year in business in June. Baldwin estimates they serve 20,000 passengers per year on 90-minute narrated dolphin-spotting and sightseeing tours.

In an email to the Sarasota City Commission, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said TevaTan is “fully authorized to use the Bridge Street Pier, Bradenton Beach as an embarkation point for his Ferry Service.” The Manatee County Tourist Development Council also submitted a letter to the Sarasota City Commission supporting the water taxi.

John Horne, CEO of AMOB on the Pier restaurant, located on Bridge Street, said he’s “proud of what Sherman’s doing.”  “The county has already come up with a free trolley on the island so if we can get people there by water we will have less vehicles on the island and it cuts the traffic down,” Horne said. “I think it’s great to be able to connect Manatee and Sarasota and what better way to do it then across Sarasota Bay.”

Bradenton Herald, February 21, 2017