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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 10 months ago

Bold Outlook

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Biter says his project will open this summer in Sarasota.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Why it matters: The affordable, or attainable, housing issue plagues many west coast Florida communities.

Sarasota entrepreneur and real estate investor Jesse Biter hopes to fulfill a long-held dream this summer: the opening of an apartment project in downtown Sarasota, 97 units, with rent rates set to attract young professionals.

The $24 million development, part of Biter's BOLD co-work space brand, on one hand, is one of many new housing projects in downtown Sarasota. And the project, BOLD Lofts, with units between 650 and 1,200 square feet, isn't technically affordable housing.

But Biter hopes his project, just off Fruitville Road, in addition to providing less expensive units, launches a new trend in downtown residential projects. The trend? Forgoing the maximum allowed in the height of a building to keep the per-apartment costs down.

So instead of building a 10-story condo tower with 4,000-square-foot units that start at $750,000 — which Biter says he could have done — BOLD Lofts will be five stories. That includes two floors of parking and three floors of residences. Lease rates will likely start in the mid-$1,000s, says Biter, who adds that he has a clause with a lender that he must charge market rent.

Biter is an outspoken voice in Sarasota to raise the density limit in the downtown core. The current regulations, 50 units per acre, push developers only toward luxury condos, he says.

Interest in the BOLD lofts is high, says Biter. That includes an informal waiting list with more than 60 people, long before any marketing materials are produced or the building officially accepts deposits. “I never set out to do this,” he says. “I saw problem and I wanted to help solve it. No one else was doing this."

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