Downtown Lights as National Tenant Marketing Ignites

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY NOV 4, 2019

Lights in downtown Sarasota mark the start of holiday season in a critical retail district for the city. The lights represent a shared investment by the City of Sarasota and Downtown Improvement District. It’s a bright effort that comes just as the DID looks for ways to keep national tenants renting space downtown.

The lights could be the start of a massive brightening of city commercial areas.

“We have over 200 trees between Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 301,” said John Moran, operations manager for the DID. “It’s pretty cool. The hope is this will continue after the holidays.”

The DID also is putting together a bid for expanding the lighting to Palm Avenue from Ringling Boulevard to Cocoanut Avenue and on Lemon Avenue from First Street to Pineapple Avenue. The DID has improved lighting infrastructure in Five Points Park and could also light State Street from Lemon to Orange Avenue. In total, the project could run more than $100,000, funded from special taxes paid by property owners within the district. Moran did note pulling in vendors this year could be a challenge as far as lighting up all four new areas.

Moran said it’s part of a continuous effort to brighten and build-up the shopping district. The attraction comes ahead of the holiday shopping season, notably in a year when the Thanksgiving holiday falls particularly late, putting off Black Friday and shortening the time between that shopping day and Christmas Eve.

The DID board on Tuesday will also consider bringing on a commercial real estate marketing firm specializing in national tenants. Landowner Mark Kauffman and the firm JLL will make a presentation to the board.

Moran said that move comes as major landlord Isaac Group Holdings steps away from downtown business. The Pineapple Square landlord has been a major force in attracting some of the most well-known national restaurants and retailers. “All those tenants are regional or national, and they are high-quality tenants who tend to stay and their checks come in on time,” he said.

Moran acknowledges some anxiety in bringing a company like JLL in to work connections to national brands, with some commercial real estate professionals already expressing trepidation. The DID will discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy Sarasota DID

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