Quay Plan Wins Approval



A development plan for the waterfront site that once served as home to the Quay won approval from Sarasota City Commissioners on Monday. GreenPointe Holdings now has 10 years to move ahead with the mixed use development. What the final construction looks like, though, will be decided at future site plan approvals done for every block of the project. “This is an exciting, creative project,” says City Commissioner Suzanne Attwell. “It can’t come soon enough.”

The commission voted 4-1 for the development plan and a series of related requests regarding the project. City Commissioner Susan Chapman cast the lone dissenting vote, citing the uncertainty about how the new construction on the Sarasota Bayfront could transform a critical part of the city. “This has the potential for nine 18-story high-rises, which has a huge impact on our city,” said Chapman Monday night. 

But developers say that won’t happen. While any given block in the project could legally be constructed at up to 18 stories per city code, a plan that would do so with the allowable density on the property doesn’t make market sense. The development plan allows for 695 residential units, 175 hotel rooms, 38,972 square feet of office space and 189,050 square feet of commercial use over the 14.65-acre site. Additionally, GreenPointe attorney Charlie Bailey noted that each block will have to go through a site plan process and public hearing before any vertical construction occurs. “This is the most transparent and well vetted development review process I’ve ever been involved with,” Bailey said. 

The Quay site has long been a frustrating vacant space in downtown Sarasota. The name comes from a mixed-use development once on the land. After purchasing the site in the early 2000s, Developer Patrick Kelly’s Irish American Company in 2007 won approval for a similar development density on site and a plan with three 18-story towers. The old Quay was torn down and the land cleared for the new project when, at the dawn of the Great Recession, ownership disputes arose. Ultimately, the property was seized as a toxic asset by the Irish government. GreenPointe purchased the land in 2014. 

Irish American’s approval can be acted upon until 2018 but GreenPointe officials say a new plan will allow for better public access and a more marketable project. Chapman expressed concern the new approval means almost 10 more years for developers to act. But City Commissioner Liz Alpert says this deal is far preferable to the old deal expiring and the project being developed piecemeal. “We have this opportunity to develop a really premiere waterfront project,” she said Monday. “We would be remiss not to take advantage.”

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