JebCo Wins Over Neighbors on Whitaker Bayou
Efforts to redevelop the old Whitaker Bayou Yacht Club for years caused tensions between nearby homeowners and developers, but a project on the North Tamiami Trail site a week ago won the support of Sarasota City Commissioners and the endorsement of neighborhood leaders living nearby. JebCo Ventures is now moving forward on plans to build 156 multi-family units contained in three buildings, each standing four stories. The plan also calls for about 50 boat slips. “We had the support of the neighborhood,” says JebCo president Jim Bridges. “I would not have gone forward with the project without that.”
Jennifer Ahern-Koch, president of the Tahiti Park Neighborhood Association, lauds the project and praises Bridges' efforts to address neighborhood concerns. She anticipates the project will blend seamlessly into the North Trail community. “This is a good example of what happens when a conversation is had,” she says. In a series of meetings with neighbors, Bridges worked on sound fences, to keep tree removal at a minimum and to make sure commercial elements on US 41 didn’t disrupt the lives of residents. The cooperative effort made neighbors more receptive, even if they started the process skeptical. “I really commend him for that,” Ahern-Koch says of Bridges. “It’s an incredibly progressive view to take in this situation. You don’t expect it.”
Neighbors have been involved in legal fights regarding the future of the property before when high-rise condominiums and larger boathouses were included in plans. Bridges said he ultimately decided not to even look at past proposals and just figured out what he wanted on the site and what neighbors would back. Despite the project’s difficult history, Bridges was attracted to the site’s potential. A total of nearly 9.5 acres of land located minutes from Downtown Sarasota proved more attractive considering the waterfront nature of the property.
Approval of the project still needs approval on second reading from city commissioners. From there, Bridges hopes to begin marketing efforts within the next 45 days. While no final prices are set, he expects most units to run roughly $400,000 and a few larger units to be priced around $800,000.