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Mercato success spawns project

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  • | 11:00 a.m. December 18, 2015
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The co-developer of the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and the upscale, golf-centered Concession community in east Manatee County has proposed a $200 million collection of upscale condominiums, retail and entertainment space and offices on a 31-acre tract near Sarasota Square Mall.

Developer Kevin Daves tells Coffee Talk the project, Cassia Cay, represents a “logical” progression for Sarasota County, and that the area is “extremely underserved” in regard to retail space and restaurants. Extremely underserved in retail and restaurants is also the calling card used by developers behind the most recent large-scale retail development in the market, the $315 million Mall at University Town Center.

Cassia Cay will be patterned after the successful Mercato lifestyle center in Naples, Daves says. Prudential Real Estate Investors bought that prominent upscale development earlier this year for $240 million.

Daves anticipates Cassia Cay will draw consumers from tony Casey Key, The Oaks, Siesta Key and Palmer Ranch, all a short drive. Daves' Core Development Inc. and Naples-based Apogee Realty Advisors LLC plan to construct 203 residences, along with 178,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space and 60,000 square feet of offices. Residences are expected to sell from $500,000 to $4 million, Daves says.

The project could face resistance from neighbors over environmental and traffic issues, but Daves downplays any opposition and says neighborhood concerns have been addressed. Daves recalls many doubted the Ritz would be successful, and now that property is a regional landmark.

“When we did the Ritz-Carlton, everyone said it was the wrong location,” Daves says. “Because it was nowhere near the beach. Now all the new hotels being developed in Sarasota are downtown. With the Concession, people said it was too far out, too far away from Lakewood Ranch or anything, that it was a terrible idea. Today there are multimillion-dollar homes there and it's nearly full.

“This to me is in exactly the same place as those projects were, in terms of potential,” Daves says of Cassia Cay. “It's 31 acres on the water and U.S. 41, for one thing. If you pull back and look at the demographics in the area, this is a more logical site for development than either of the other places were.”


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