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The Rosemary District is finally taking off. With eight major projects under way, it’s become the undisputed center of hip, urban Sarasota. And this month’s home is at the center of it all.

It’s a building—two, actually—that offers a stylish and versatile live/work environment suitable for what’s now called the Sarasota Design District. The current owner has fashioned a sleek pied-à-terre for himself and also created more than 13,000 square feet of space occupied by other residences, businesses and a restaurant (Lolita Tartine).

The owner’s apartment is 1,300 square feet but used to be much larger and included a soaring living area and outdoor patio. That’s the genius of the buildings—they can be adapted in different ways for both residential and commercial purposes. The interior spaces are full of delightful surprises, with skylights, glass walls and mezzanines finished in an International Modernist style that would be at home in Milan or San Francisco. From a design point of view, it’s one of the most interesting places in town.

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The project was a collaboration between the owner, a French designer and artist, and local contractor Pat Ball. Their vision was contemporary but includes nods to the past. In the art gallery space, for instance, the old plaster walls have been preserved, looking back to the days when the location was first an automobile showroom, then the Ace Theater, then a church. The building next door was built from scratch in 2008. The two structures blend seamlessly into one but are being sold separately.

The Rosemary District is located just north of downtown. Originally an African-American neighborhood, it’s now attracting start-ups, architects, a few high-end retailers and creative young people. True, the Salvation Army is right down the block, along with its homeless clients. The neighborhood may be a little gritty around the edges, but it’s well on its way to a promising future.

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Interested? 1419 Fifth St., Sarasota, $2.25 million. Contact Frank Lambert, (941) 920-1500, or Dean Schmitt, (941) 724-0075, of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.

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