Real estate

Can a Neglected Waterfront Restaurant Be Rehabbed?

The former restaurant overlooking Dona Bay has been vacant for decades.

By Vicki Dean June 26, 2017 Published in the May-June 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Nokomis restaurant lgqcod

Image: Google Earth

With so much coastal housing development, locations for waterfront dining are hard to find. That makes the shuttered former restaurant overlooking Dona Bay in Nokomis so unusual—it has been vacant for decades.

Listed for almost $1.3 million, the 2,160-square-foot, salmon-colored building with a teal tile roof was built in 1975 and sits just north of the Shakett Creek bridge at 505 S. Tamiami Trail. “Waterfront dining” and “Tiki Bar” are still stenciled in black letters on the front.

Extensive renovations or a complete reconstruction is likely necessary, which means regulatory hurdles. “What we’re trying to do is find a buyer who would rebuild the property, work with the county and government agencies to get everybody on board to re-establish the permits that were in place at one time to be able to rebuild and reopen it,” says listing broker American Property Group’s Barry Seidel.

Parking is limited on the gravel lot beside the restaurant and could be the biggest challenge for a new owner. Either fast casual with quick customer turnover or a high-end restaurant might be viable options. The eatery has access to Dona Bay and could attract people who like to fish and boaters on family outings. The property is not as visible to southbound traffic on U.S. 41, and accessibility requires a left turn across the busy road.

Sarasota County property records show that the building is permitted for a boat dock, as is the 1,235-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath home on the water at 501 S. Tamiami Trail next door. Both properties are being marketed together and have been owned by Dick and Marilyn Lee of Sarasota since 1984. The owners would sell them separately. The listing price is $599.94 a square foot for the restaurant, which is zoned commercial general. No price has been set for the home.

Like many commercial properties, the Nokomis site languished on the market during the recession, but activity has picked up. A hotel is being built nearby at Albee Road, and retail, assisted living, medical centers and other restaurants, such as Captain Eddie’s and NoKoMo’s Sunset Hut, are nearby.

“We think that Nokomis is the place to be. If you look at just the north end of Venice and see the developments going there, it’s moving—south from Sarasota, north from Venice,” Seidel says. “I think Osprey and Nokomis are going to be the beneficiaries.”

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