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Sarasota-Manatee
Business Observer Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2020 1 month ago

Investor purchases historic downtown building for $5.8 million

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The downtown Sarasota building was built in 1932. 

SARASOTA — The historic Kress Building at 1440 Main St. has been sold for $5.8 million.

Sarasota real estate investor and entrepreneur Eric Baird purchased the 25,500-square-foot property from prior owner Doug Libertore of 1 Health Place International, according to a press release. The building was built in 1932. 

Baird has had a busy run in Sarasota commercial real estate. He was part of a group of investors who sold a portion of the Main Plaza complex, also on Main Street, to a Greenwich, Conn.-based real estate investment trust last November for $20 million. Also, in early 2019 Baird bought the Hotel Ranola, a boutique hotel in downtown Sarasota, for $2.9 million. 

As of the March 3 closing of the Kress Building, meanwhile, the complex's first-floor retail space had no occupants. FIMC Insurance is the only current tenant, occupying the second and third floors, the release states. That company has stated its intention to renew its lease in September 2020.

Baird plans to recruit high-end retail tenants to the first-floor space and to move the offices of his company, EB Kress LLC, to the fourth floor. The property also has a spacious rooftop deck, the release adds. 

“It’s such a spectacular building,” says Baird in the statement. “And this is a great opportunity to put some new, high-end retailers on Main Street.”

The building’s modern architecture, including a brick-and-stone facade, makes it one of the last remaining Art Deco landmarks in the area. The awning and facade still bear the “Kress” logo and the inscription, “5-10-25 CENT STORE.”

“This iconic structure has been here for nearly 90 years, and it should continue to be celebrated,” says Baird in the statement. “I’m excited to be a part of Sarasota history.”

Sarasota’s Kress Building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Kevin Robbins of Harry E. Robbins Associates represented the buyer in the transaction.

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