Rosemary Square Deal Could Spur Vitality



A new development agreement for shopping area and residential complex, with plans for a new theater to follow, moved forward this week as Sarasota City Commissioners approved a deal with Rosemary Square.  

Mark Kauffman, a general partner with Rosemary Square, said the deal will turn the corner at Boulevard of the Arts and Central Avenue into cultural center in North Sarasota. In June, City Commissioners voted to move ahead with the sale of city land there to Rosemary Square, and now plans for the site include 61 residential units, 15,000 to 16,000 square feet of retail space and as much office space as well, all in buildings planned to be five stories tall. The project even in early stages has already drawn queries from 

Already, the project has drawn interest from three professional firms interested in office space, a major restaurant, and a nonprofit agency willing to acquire roughly half the residential units. "We have potentially great plans we are not prepared to talk about yet but that will blow your mind if this comes to be," Kauffman told City Commissioners.

Mayor Willie Shaw said the project will be an enhancement to North Sarasota. City Commissioners unanimously voted this week to move ahead with the agreement with Rosemary Square.

The city-owned property was sold for $1.05 million, but Rosemary Square also went ahead and purchased property across the street. While initially there was talk of putting a movie theater or other theater on the land bought from the city, developers now are looking to put the theater on the adjacent property and have a courtyard on the first piece of land to encourage pedestrian activity between the projects.

The theater once was envisioned as a private movie theater, and Kauffman said the Sarasota Film Festival has expressed some interest in a venue there, but most likely the venue will be a theater for cultural organizations working with the Arts Alliance of Sarasota County, which is working with some 15 entities interested in the spot. To move forward with that will likely require a capital campaign beyond initial seed funding from the groups.

Architect Jonathan Parks, part of the Rosemary Square team, said the project has already generated tremendous interest from businesses looking at the Rosemary District as a whole. "Getting others involved has been easier than I thought," he said. Indeed, another client of Jonathan Parks Architect, Parks' firm, has moved ahead with development of another piece of land in anticipate of the redevelopment happening at Rosemary Square.

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