From Such Great Heights

Obsidian Is Set to Be Downtown Sarasota's Tallest Condo Building

Take a look at what's planned for the 1260 Palm Avenue project, across from the Palm Avenue parking garage.

By Kim Doleatto May 5, 2023

A rendering of Obsidian Residences at 1260 Palm Ave. in downtown Sarasota.

We wrote about it before it had a name. But now we know it’s called Obsidian Residences, the high-rise luxury condo tower headed to North Palm Avenue–1260 through 1274 N. Palm Ave., to be exact. The site for the tower is located directly to the east of Bay Plaza and across the street from the Palm Avenue parking garage.

Tower it will. The project so far is garnering attention for its 337-foot height, since most other similar developments stand roughly 235 feet high. It will be 18 stories and is slated to replace a lineup of single-story businesses that have been attached to the site since the 1950s.

A rendering of the view from the Obsidian rooftop.

It will be a big change, for sure, and it's perhaps a sign that, with our ongoing condo boom, downtown doesn’t do single-story anything anymore.

According to the developer, the project's extra height comes from demand.

“Years ago, not everyone wanted 10-14 foot ceilings. Now they do," says Matt Kihnke of MK Equity, which submitted the application for Obsidian on behalf of 1260 Palm Properties, LLC, which purchased the parcel in January 2022 from Palm Avenue Properties LLC., owned by Dr. Mark Kauffman. (You might remember Kauffman's name from the Mira Mar Plaza debate last year.) Kihnke says the building will be the "Rolls Royce of condos."

Matt Kihnke with a model of the Obsidian Residences at the sales gallery on Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota.

Image: Kim Doleatto

A rendering of the Obsidian lobby.

The project includes interstitial space for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and other equipment between some of the floors. That adds 70 feet of extra height to the project. Per the zoning code definition of a story, this amounts to an additional five stories of building height in interstitial space alone.

The downtown code measures building height in stories, rather than feet, and doesn't regulate the space between stories. As currently proposed, Obsidian's amount of interstitial space doesn't meet the intent of the downtown code and its ability to regulate building height. The building's final height, among other items, has yet to gain approval, since the project is still going through the administrative site plan process with the city’s Development Review Committee. The next round of reviews and comments are scheduled for Wednesday, May 17, but the project won't be required to go in front of the Sarasota City Commission for final approval. Kihnke says what he’s asking for aligns with the city's code and zoning and hopes to have a permit by the end of the year. The public can attend development review committee meetings, but there isn’t a public input portion tied into them.

Next door to the proposed site of the 18-story tower, a petition asking that the application be denied is circulating among Bay Plaza residents. The petition indicates that the intent is for residents to share the results with the city manager, planning board and commissioners.

Sticking points include the project's height (it will be more than twice as tall as Bay Plaza), a lack of exterior space between buildings and residents' safety during construction, to name a few.

However the details of the project shake out, it will likely be grand. The proposed building will offer downtown living studded with a new level of luxury amenities and top-of-the-industry design.

A rendering of an Obsidian unit interior. Each residence will occupy one floor.

Although Bay Plaza residents have voiced concerns about how their easterly views may be blocked once Obsidian is built, Bay Plaza units face the bayfront, not the Obisidan—or Palm Avenue—side. With Obsidian, Bay Plaza residents will be facing the tower’s fourth-floor sky garden, Kihnke points out.

1260 through 1274 N. Palm Avenue is the site for the proposed new development.

A rendering of a seating area with firepit.

Discussions between residents and Kihnke included possibly adding a grand entryway to Bay Plaza, paid for by the developer. “We want them to feel the beauty of our building. We want the whole block to be the gem of the city,” he says. “Between [Palm Avenue's] residences, the hotel, the restaurants—if you take that one-block radius, we want it to be ground zero for beautiful design, inside and out."

A rendering of a bedroom.

Based in Los Angeles, award-winning interior designer Troy Adams is spearheading the interiors, while local firms Hoyt Architects and PS Design Workshop handle the rest. Adams is also a builder and contractor, and one of his Beverly Hills mansion projects recently fetched $46.5 million.

A rendering of a kitchen

“Our buyers are seeking unique things and we’ll have designers ready to work with them, or they can bring their own,” Kihnke says.

Obsidian will include just 14 residences, priced at more than $4 million, and will include a deck on the roof of the building that incorporates a lap pool, spa and firepit.

Each residence will be customized and will range from three to five bedrooms, plus flex space to create an office, studio, music room, library, private fitness room or additional wine cellar. The building is intended to be pet-friendly and guest-friendly, with on-site suites for visitors.

There will be a wine-tasting room and a dedicated cigar and card lounge with billiards. There will also be an indoor-outdoor yoga and meditation studio, a wellness center with a sauna, a steam room and treatment room for massages, a doctor’s concierge office and a cold-plunge ice bath, plus a private golf simulator room and space for bocce.

A rendering of the cigar room.

A rendering of the billiards area for residents.

The fourth-floor amenity level will have a club room, fitness center, garden and resident water feature with a fire pit.

A rendering of the Obsidian's golf simulator.

A rendering of the Obsidian fitness center.

There will be roughly 900 square feet of first-floor commercial space and the entry lobby will face Palm Avenue. Residents will enter the building’s parking garage from Palm Avenue with private parking garages available within.

Groundbreaking is anticipated to take place at the end of 2023, with an opening by the fall of 2025.

A rendering of a wine room.

"It’s going to be a piece of art," Kihnke says. "I think, when it's done, people will understand we’ve elevated the appeal of what the city can build."

A rendering of the bocce court.

Interested? Call Jonathan Abrams of Michael Saunders & Company at (941) 232-2868. The Obisidan Residences sales lounge is located at 1460 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.

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