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Business Observer Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 2 years ago

'Coming together'

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Plan for development at Sarasota's former Quay waterfront site is gelling, and site work is expected in 2016.
by: Kevin McQuaid Observer Staff

SweetSpot
Sarasota Bayside

Why 2016 is important: For the first time in nearly a decade, construction is expected to occur on the key waterfront site.

It's been nearly a decade since the former Sarasota Quay office, retail and entertainment complex in downtown Sarasota fell to a wrecking ball and plans for a $1 billion redevelopment subsequently collapsed.

In 2016, current owner GreenPointe Communities expects to finalize a master plan that could jumpstart development and result in hundreds of new residences and hotel rooms, restaurants, shops and public spaces like an amphitheater on one of the most coveted, undeveloped urban sites in all of Florida.

The Jacksonville-based developer also hopes to garner support with residents through community meetings and begin cutting through Sarasota's approval process over the next 12 months.

From there, it plans to start as much as $50 million in infrastructure that would be required before vertical construction could begin. GreenPointe officials say they consider the property to be “an opportunity for place-making” that could transform Sarasota and link the city's downtown to its bayfront.

“Our master plan is coming together,” GreenPointe regional president Rick Harcrow said in early December. “So our next step will be to fashion a development agreement and a site plan agreement with the city that would govern construction of the infrastructure.”

Harcrow expects that to occur either this month or in February, which would pave the way for GreenPointe to start the city's approval process for its Sarasota Bayside project.

Even before then, city officials are expected this month to hold a community hearing on vacating municipal rights of way within the 15-acre site.

If that occurs and the DRC signs off on GreenPointe's plans, the company could begin construction of streets, sewers, water lines and lighting before the end of the year.

Entitlements already in place would allow GreenPointe to construct as many as 700 residences, a 175-room hotel and nearly 230,000 square feet of retail and office space at Bayside.

Thanks to a city extension, the company has until the end of September to pull a building permit from Sarasota and begin work. The development could take a decade in all to reach fruition, says Harcrow, a former GL Homes and Newland Real Estate Group executive.

In all, GreenPointe's plans could approach the $1 billion estimated for the project by Irish-American Management Services Ltd., a Dublin development firm that acquired and assembled the Quay land beginning in 2004.

And while that level of even-phased development would be financially daunting to many firms, GreenPointe is confident capital won't be an issue. That belief stems in part from its close relationship with Paulson & Co., a New York-based hedge fund valued at in excess of $30 billion.

Previously, Paulson worked with GreenPointe on Amelia Walk, a 358-acre master planned community in Nassau County, near Jacksonville, which the developer bought in April 2011.

A year earlier, Paulson teamed with Greenpointe on the $14.75 million acquisition of more than 1,000 acres of land at Triple Creek, in Riverview, and the $13.25 million purchase of more than 900 acres in the Belmont community, also in Hillsborough County.

For now, though, GreenPointe officials say they are focused on completing the necessary and lengthy infrastructure work that will eventually lead to residential towers and commercial construction.

“We'll be underway with our infrastructure investment by the end of 2016,” Harcrow says. “And while our target schedule has part of the site work spilling over into the following year, all of that has to occur before we can go vertical.”

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