Design District Image for Rosemary?

Branding

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY AUG 4, 2014

Can Sarasota's Rosemary District be branded as a destination for shoppers with an eye on home design? A new effort is underway to highlight the existing concentration of furniture, architecture and home contracting companies already located around Central Avenue.

"If you go and brand this as the Sarasota Design District, that becomes self-perpetuating," said Michael Bush, president of the Rosemary District and owner of Home Resource. "And any design district has got to be hip and trendy."

A new website launched Friday at SarasotaDesignDistrict.com that hopes to showcase the area's assets, including a directory that shows the area is already home to architects (Halflants and Pichette, Seibert Architects, Jonathan Parks Architect), interior designers (Pam Holladay, Lancaster Interior Deisgn), remodeling companies (Yoder Homes, Ball Construction) and furniture shops (Sarasota Collection, Home Resource), among other contracting services that contribute to the design resources such as Cabinet Scapes and Sarasota Superfloors.

"It's just trying to create awareness," Bush said. "It will give visibility to all these people who are here."

And the effort comes at a time when the district expects significant growth in the near future. New density approvals by city officials have led to 400 new apartments currently under construction in the area. “If that project goes through, it will bring 24-7 residents and represent a significant boost for new retail and restaurants on Central Avenue," said Ian Black, founder of Ian Black Real Estate. "We see the emergence of like kinds of design businesses gravitating to Central Avenue. The new design district association will ensure that the trend gains momentum."

Bush also said branding the district fits well with Sarasota's broader identity as a whole. Home to Ringling College of Art and Design and already attracting home design professionals and consumers from Tampa to Naples, this effort could be the next step in raising the region's profile as a place for art and aesthetic superiority. "In a broader sense, it makes sense that Sarasota should have a design district," he said.

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