Where the Going Gets Tough for Some Developers


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, February 15th 2017 – Property development in the Florida Suncoast has definitely shifted to high gear. In downtown Sarasota alone, over 3,000 residential units slated in some 40 projects are either newly finished or under construction or in the pipeline.

The construction frenzy could significantly intensify even more and further enrich selections of Sarasota homes for sale. But this will happen only if some developers are able to overcome the hurdles posed on their projects either by government regulators or local residents wary of the impact of these new developments.

Horton’s Fruitville Challenge

Where the Going Gets Tough for Some Developers

One plan facing an uphill climb is the bid of national builder D.R. Horton to develop a suburban residential area on a 137-acre site east of Interstate 75 and south of Fruitville Road. Horton is planning 200 single family homes and 285 multifamily units in this parcel. It is within what is known as the Fruitville Initiative, which is especially zoned to encourage mixed-use walkable developments.

Sarasota’s planners, however, voted this January not to endorse the project to the County Commission because a nearby sewage plant property would become a “remnant parcel” if the new neighborhood is approved. Planning Commission endorsement, however, has been granted to two new hotels with a total of 200 rooms on a 5.7-acre vacant lot on the southwest corner of Fruitville Road and I-75.

Turbulent March for Colony

In Longboat Key, the $1 billion plan to revitalize the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort is facing opposition from a new political action committee (PAC) composed of some residents from several nearby condominiums. Their opposition mainly centers of the project’s impact on local traffic and on residential view around the Colony.

The fate of the Colony revitalization project now hinges on a referendum among local residents this March. As this poll nears, the newly organized PAC is stepping up its campaign against the project which seeks to build 237 tourism units and 180 condos with a saltwater lagoon among their amenities.

Notably, some of the leaders against the Colony project were also behind the Keep Longboat Special group which successfully blocked the recent plan of developer Floridays to build a hotel on the northern end of Longboat Key.

No Walk in the Park at Promenade

Similar strong opposition is being encountered by the Siesta Promenade project of Benderson Development at the northwest corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41. The County Commission this January voted 4‒1 to approve a scope of work for the developer to justify its appeal for higher density and multifamily housing at the Promenade’s 24-acre site. All told, Benderson wants a mixed-use development with 500 multifamily housing units, 150 hotel rooms and retail space of 140,000 square feet.

However, residents in the property’s surrounding neighborhoods, including some from Siesta Key, are seriously concerned about the traffic impact of a mixed-use Promenade. To halt the development, one proposal that surfaced recently was for a private initiative or a special tax to raise funds to buy the property and convert it into a park and transit station.

But whichever project gains headway—Benderson’s mixed-use Promenade or this ambitious new public space—there are benefits to be reaped that should add to luster to the flourishing property developments in the region.