Staying Power

The Sale of Mira Mar Plaza Has Been Halted

Would-be purchaser Seaward Development has withdrawn an appeal to demolish the historic structure and build a mixed-use project in its place.

By Kim Doleatto August 9, 2022

Mira Mar Plaza

Mira Mar Plaza

Image: Kim Doleatto

For now, the historic Mira Mar plaza will stay just the way it is—and the DeMarcay going up next door will still tower above the beloved, century-old building on Palm Avenue.

In June, the local firm Seaward Development, led by Matthew Leake and Patrick Dipinto III, asked the City of Sarasota’s Historic Preservation Board for permission to demolish the building as part of its plan to build a 10-story residential and commercial building on the property. After the board denied that request, the company appealed the decision. The appeal was scheduled for review by the Sarasota City Commission next week, but has since been removed from the agenda.

The project as proposed would include not only the Mira Mar plaza but also the Mira Mar parking garage directly to the east of the plaza, on Mira Mar Court. It would also depend on Seaward purchasing the property from current owner Mark Kauffman.

In an email received by Mira Mar plaza commercial tenants, property management firm Red Dog Management indicated that the purchase had been shelved and that the property “will continue under current ownership." (A spokesperson for Seaward declined to comment.)

Roughly 40 commercial tenants, including Seaward, occupy the Mediterranean Revival-style building.

During the company's initial presentation in seeking a demolition permit, the firm's hired engineers revealed extensive damage and neglect in the 100-year-old buildings (they are two buildings attached by a bridge), including undersized foundations, corroded structural wood wall studs, irregular framing and more. They indicated repairs would cost roughly $22 million and take more than two years to complete, a time period during which tenants would have to vacate the property, the applicants said.

Although Kauffman was not present at the meeting, he wrote in a statement that “if demolition is not allowed, we will allow leases to run out over the next two years, then close the building and fence it off, and allow it to decay as we cannot afford the repairs anymore.”

Seaward 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. Kauffman, who owns other commercial properties in downtown Sarasota, including Selva Grill and McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, purchased the plaza and Mira Mar parking garage parcel in 1989 for nearly $1.8 million.

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