Sarasota Developer Plans to Buy and Demolish Mira Mar Plaza

Seaward Development's plans will be discussed at a Historic Preservation Board meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

By Kim Doleatto June 11, 2022

Exterior image of the historic Mira Mar plaza on Palm Avenue.

The Mira Mar plaza at 41-53 (north) and 69-77 (south) S. Palm Ave. in downtown Sarasota.

Image: Kim Doleatto

The historic Mira Mar plaza in downtown Sarasota is in the process of changing hands, and the buyer acquiring the property, Seaward Development, has plans to demolish the existing building and construct a 10-story residential and commercial building in its place.

Seaward is in the middle of purchasing the property from longtime property owner Dr. Mark Kauffman and expects to close on the property later this year. A purchase price for the multi-commercial tenant plaza has not yet been disclosed.

Owned by partners Patrick DiPinto III and David Hargreaves, the Sarasota-based firm Seaward is seeking to take down the building and build a mixed-use project in its place. The three-story Mira Mar plaza is currently zoned as “Downtown Core,” which allows owners to build up to 50 dwelling units per acre, and as high as 10 stories.

Seaward's plans for the property include two floors of retail fronting Palm Avenue, with a residential component set back behind the commercial space as an homage to the original look and design of the property, when the Mira Mar Hotel stood there in the early 1900s.

Seaward has occupied a space in the plaza for five years and builds single-family homes, luxury condominiums and commercial projects. The firm built the 18-floor, 23-unit, luxury condo Epoch in 2018 and the 16-unit condo project 7 One One Palm and the 18-unit Park Residences of Lido Key in 2015. With Mira Mar, it aims to fold its historic charm into the syle of the end product.

“Our plan is to work with historical preservation specialists and a local salvage firm to keep what we can and preserve the building’s unique legacy and charm, but also build a new and safe property for tenants, visitors and future residents,” said Seaward president Matthew Leake, according to a press release.

However, City of Sarasota staff has recommended that the city deny an application to demolish the existing building, a proposal that will be discussed at a Historic Preservation Board meeting that will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14. Whatever the outcome Tuesday, the matter will then go to the Sarasota City Commission for a final vote.

Gilbane, a Sarasota construction company, estimates it would cost more than $22 million dollars to restore the existing building and bring it up to current safety standards and codes. According to a Seaward spokesperson, due to a long list of needed updates, the property was appraised for just around $2 million.

Built in 1922, the Mira Mar is an early example of the Mediterranean Revival style. It is composed of two separate buildings that mirror each other and are connected by a second-story walkway.

The buildings are of wood frame construction clad with stucco and the roofs have wide overhang eaves and exposed rafter details and front gable extensions. They were the first modern apartment buildings constructed in the City of Sarasota and are associated with the beginning of the 1920s land boom. As such, the Historic Preservation Board indicates the buildings are eligible for national and local historic designation, despite some heavy-handed renovations in the 1980s that destroyed many historical design elements.

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