Sarasota County, North Port offer to buy Springs
Sarasota County and the city of North Port have offered to buy Warm Mineral Springs in North Port. The two municipalities proposed paying Cypress Lending Group Ltd. $6.5 million for the roughly 81-acre property. As proposed, the agreement would have Cypress Lending Group continue to manage the property for two years, while the municipalities develop their plans to improve the property.
The spring-fed day spa has operated since 1946.
“The city of North Port and the county see the opportunity there to preserve the spring itself, preserve the architectural and historical impact of the spring and the downstream water and habitat,” says John McCarthy, general manager for the parks and recreation department of Sarasota county. “There is also a strong desire to ensure we keep the springs open to the public. There have been some concerns in the past that the spring could be developed in a way that the general public would be cut off from access to it.”
The purchase cost would by split in half between the two municipalities. County money for the acquisition would come from the county lands program.
If the sale is consummated, McCarthy says both governments would consider a possible public-private partnership to reinvigorate the site possibly with medical office space, a hotel and a replacement or rehabbed spa facility.
The Warm Mineral Springs property could also be used to create a third entryway point to about 1,000 acres of county-own environmental land.
“That could actually create an equestrian site where riders could gain access to thousands of acres of public land,” McCarthy says.
Both commissions agreed to meet again on Jan. 15 to finalize the details of a request for proposals for a concession agreement.
Local governments have tried to buy the spa site since as least as far back as the 1980s. The current opportunity for North Port and Sarasota County to buy the property comes after its lender (Cypress Lending Group) foreclosed upon Edward Ullmann's development company Golden Springs LLC in late 2008.