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As megaprojects go in the Sarasota-Manatee area, none are more game changing than the Quay Sarasota (formerly Sarasota Quay) property in downtown Sarasota and the University Town Center build-out in east county.

As a rare, large waterfront property in a Florida downtown, Quay Sarasota is one of the area’s most discussed empty lots. After the original Quay property was demolished in 2007, the property changed hands a few times and even spent some time as property of the Irish government after previous owner Irish American Management Services defaulted.

Jacksonville-based GreenPointe Holdings purchased the property in 2014 for $27 million, and the company is finally primed to break ground later this year on the needed infrastructure to support the site’s development of condos, a hotel, retail and office.

It’ll have stiff competition from University Town Center in east county for businesses, residents and shoppers. Over the summer, county commissioners approved the final construction phases for Benderson Development Company’s UTC expansion, for which the University Town Center Mall serves as anchor. The final phases of that project will bring residents to 1,800 planned units in the area between the mall and I-75. The UTC build-out also includes three new hotels and a movie theater as part of its entertainment district.

GreenPointe regional president Rick Harcrow downplays any competition and says that Quay Sarasota is “an extension of the downtown fabric” with shopping, dining, hospitality and entertainment. “Our plans are for a place to live, work, create and recreate,” he says.

John Harshman, president of Harshman & Company commercial real estate, says both projects will bring in fresh retail names to the market, and new offices, restaurants, residences and hotels will “increase market attention” to both areas. And as far as poaching consumers goes, Harshman says shoppers tend to stay within a 15- to 20-minute drive time from home base. UTC will attract shoppers from a wider radius, but downtown shoppers will still shop downtown when they want convenience and ambiance. 

QUAY SARASOTA

The Specs

Lot size: 14 acres

Condominiums: 695

Hotel rooms: 175

Retail space: 189,050 square feet 

Office space: 38,972 square feet 

Timetable: Infrastructure work is expected to commence at the end of 2016, continuing into 2017. This is a multiphase, mixed-use project scheduled to be built over time [with an expected] 10-year build-out.

Unique feature: The property sits on the waterfront between the Hyatt Regency and Ritz-Carlton hotels, making it one of the most valuable lots in the area (and accessible by boat). Its proximity to downtown means it should be walkable.

UNIVERSITY TOWN CENTER EXPANSION

The Specs

Lot size: 281 acres

Condominiums and homes: 1,800 

Hotel rooms: 500

Retail space: 600,000 square feet

Office space: 100,000 square feet

Timetable: The county has stipulated that development of the final phases of UTC will not exceed more than 484,000 square feet in one year between 2015 and 2019.

Unique feature: Four acres that were previously slated for residential units will be set aside to preserve oak hammocks. The site also will include an entertainment district with a high-end movie theater.

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