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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Monday, Mar. 28, 2005 16 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana)

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Gold Coast Eagle moving to Manatee County?: Sarasota and Manatee counties' Anheuser Busch distributor, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing Co., has called Sarasota County home since right after prohibition, but that may be changing soon.Looking beyond price: A lot of people doubted it would happen, but Toronto-based Kolter Property Co. completed its $40 million purchase of the three-acre Metropolitan property at U.S. 41 and Gulf Stream Avenue in downtown Sarasota.Studying a university district: Who's going to coordinate the creation of a University District? We may have a better idea after Monday, March 28.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana)

Gold Coast Eagle moving to Manatee County?

Sarasota and Manatee counties' Anheuser Busch distributor, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing Co., has called Sarasota County home since right after prohibition, but that may be changing soon.

"The bottom line is we are over capacity in our location now and have absolutely no room to grow," says Andrea Saputo Cox, company vice president. "We are looking for enough land for a 200,000-square-foot warehouse ... probably 25 to 30 acres. We have been working with the Sarasota Chamber and the (Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County) along with Realtors in the area, and as of today, we have not found a property in Sarasota County that meets our needs without entailing a ton of impact fees and major road improvements."

The same is not true for Manatee; the company has identified a couple sites that will fit its needs across the county border.

"We would love to stay, but we just can't find anything," Saputo Cox says.

She expects to the company to make a decision in about six months.

Looking beyond price

A lot of people doubted it would happen, but Toronto-based Kolter Property Co. completed its $40 million purchase of the three-acre Metropolitan property at U.S. 41 and Gulf Stream Avenue in downtown Sarasota.

Less than two years ago, Richard Zipes' Metropolitan Sarasota Ltd. had paid only $15 million for the three-acre parcel.

Mary Kay Willson, a Kolter Property vice president, told Coffee Talk in February the purchase price reflected not simply land prices, but Zipes' zoning and approval changes to the property. As part of the purchase, Kolter mortgaged the property to AmSouth Bank for $28 million.

Now speculation turns to the make-up of the development, which was previously proposed as a 144-unit condominium. Several Realtor and developers questioned whether a purely condominium project would make financial sense at the new price point. Based on an industry standard for upscale condominiums of four-times land prices, Kolter would have to sell the units for an average price of $1.1 million per unit.

Willson did not return calls before press time.

According to Harvey Hoglund, senior planner for the city of Sarasota, if Kolter wanted to add any additional uses to the development, it would require a new site plan.

"The density is not really an issue," Hoglund says. "The biggest effect would probably be on the traffic impact. I'm not aware of any changes yet though."

However, Hoglund says as long as it meets other regulations, commercial elements could be added without reducing the number of units that could be built in the development.

A rumor is circulating that the property might be associated with the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

In the greater downtown real estate community, the $40 million price is expected to add to steady upward price pressures.

"Prices just went up, no question about it," says Scott Sosso, president of Prudential Palms Realty.

Studying a university district

Who's going to coordinate the creation of a University District? We may have a better idea after Monday, March 28.

Four companies responded to a Request For Information to provide the planning and design services necessary to create a meaningful conceptual design of a designated area of higher education, history and culture on Tamiami Trail. They are WilsonMiller; The ADP Group and Wallace Roberts and Todd LLC; Florida House Institute for Sustainable Development, Urban Resource Group, a division of Kimley-Horn and Associates and The Folsom Group; and officials from Florida Center for Community Design + Research at the University of South Florida, School of Architecture and Community Design in Tampa.

On the 28th, four local college presidents and several city and county leaders will evaluate the list and choose the top candidates.

The prize for the RFI winner is expected to be in the neighborhood of $140,000. The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Ringling School of Art and Design, New College of Florida, Florida State University Ringling Center for Cultural Arts and Ringling Museum of Art, City of Sarasota, Manatee County and Sarasota County are each contributing $20,000 toward the hiring of a consultant.

The RFIs returned by the four groups, similar to a Request for Qualifications, focus almost exclusively on past design experience and give no hints as to eventual recommendations.

According to the initial RFI requirements, the consultant's work is scheduled to start in May and will be completed by Dec. 31.

Etc...

• Developer U.S. Assets Group is expected to move later this year from 1343 Main St., Sarasota, to 5,000 square feet in the Gold Bank building, at 240 S Pineapple Ave.

• Jupiter-based R.J. Gator, in its projection for growth this year, plans to add new restaurants in Sarasota and Tampa. R.J. Gator's has grown to a 22-unit chain. Overall, 12 new restaurants are scheduled to open in 2005.

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