Main Street Boom

Reese's Service Station and the Former Michael Saunders & Company Buildings in Downtown Sarasota Have Sold

Located on the corners of Main Street and Osprey Avenue, the buildings were purchased by two local developers for a total of $7.76 million.

By Kim Doleatto September 22, 2023

One of the two buildings that were home to Michael Saunders & Company on N. Osprey Avenue in Downtown Sarasota.

The east side of Main Street that’s still technically downtown Sarasota—but without that same downtown vibe—has major changes on the horizon. 

Two prominent Sarasota development companies purchased a .71-acre parcel, including two buildings that served as Michael Saunders & Company's downtown offices, for $5.7 million. It’s a prime location, on the corner of Main Street and North Osprey Avenue.  

The former Michael Saunders & Company buildings on the northwest corner of Main Street and N. Osprey Avenue.

The property, which comprises 1801 Main St. and 32 and 40 N. Osprey Ave., was purchased by Jebccore Group in partnership with the Kauffman Family Partnership. James Bridges is CEO of Jebco Ventures, Inc., a nearly 50-year-old company that has developed a broad range of local high-profile projects, including One Park (in a partnership with PMG), The Strand and Embassy Suites—and there's more to come. 

The Kauffman Family Partnership is connected to Sarasota commercial real estate mogul Dr. Mark Kauffman, who sold the historic Mira Mar plaza for $17.3 million in May. He also sold a throng of single-story businesses, at 1260 through 1274 N. Palm Ave., for $3.79 million last year. They’re going to be razed to make way for the highest building in town.

In a separate transaction, the same buyers have acquired Reese’s Service Station, right across the street from the old Michael Saunders & Company buildings, on the southwest corner of Main Street and Osprey Avenue.

Reese's sold on July 11 for $2.06 million. The buyer, Mop South LLC, is registered at the same address as the Kauffman property management company under Kauffman's daughter Mindy. According to the Sarasota County appraiser’s website, Mop South LLC sold Reese's one month later to Jebccore 1 LLC, which is led by Bridges, for $1.02 million in an equal common tenancy deal.

Reese's Service Station

Reese's Service Station

Image: Kim Doleatto

Wawa’s got nothing on Reese’s, which is among the last vestiges of Sarasota's sleepy beach town roots. A mom-and-pop shop through and through, the station has been in the Reese family since 1953. Just like back then, the employees still check your oil, clean windows and make sure your tire pressure's good while they pump your gas. (They also do larger repairs.)

“I had my state inspection a week or so ago, and the fella’s in charge of Southwest Florida. I asked him if there's anyone else who still pumps gas [for customers], and he said, ‘Nope, there’s not,’” says owner Richard “Dick” Reese, who still answers the phone and works in the shop daily. The pumps are still the original ticker kind (sans automated ads). Inside, there’s a collection of vintage fire trucks, toy cars and Coca-Cola signs, the edges softened by dust in the best way.

Inside Reese's Service Station

Inside Reese's Service Station

Image: Kim Doleatto

Reese, now 88, is ready to retire and spend winters at his North Carolina cabin, but he reckons they’ll stay open until the end of the year. There aren't any plans for a going-away party, but he and his crew will no doubt see an outpouring of love from lifelong customers. 

“The biggest thing is not being able to tell somebody where they can go to get help. I have a lot of elderly people I serve. With the full service they get, some of them can’t do it themselves," he says. "We also get a lot of professionals who just don’t want to get dirty—that’s what we're here for.” 

The gas pumps at Reese's Service Station.

The gas pumps at Reese's Service Station.

Image: Kim Doleatto

Online reviews marvel at the family’s commitment to service, with words like "honest," "welcoming," "old-school" and "trustworthy" used repeatedly. Five years ago, Reese's son, Rick, who took over the station from his dad, had a stroke. “He still comes down and helps out a little bit, but has aphasia and can’t speak,” Reese says.

“We think the buyer might wanna keep [the station] going,” he continues, but admits he doesn’t know the future plans “for sure.” The rest of his family is staying in Sarasota full-time, and Reese will be back in the winter, too.

“It’s like a big family. After this much time, you get a pretty steady clientele. I’m going to miss the customers and their loyalty,” he says. 

Some would say the closure marks the end of an era, with long-running community favorites like Il Panificio pizzeria and Art Uptown Gallery bowing out from the main drag after decades in business as those properties are sold, too.

Reese’s Service Station and the former Michael Saunders & Company buildings across the street are all zoned "downtown core," which allows mixed-use projects up to 10 stories high. Residential dwellings are allowed a density of 50 units per acre. In the case of the Michael Saunders buildings, that amounts to 35 units. For Reese’s, it’s nine. The front has zero to five-foot setbacks, and all other sides must be built up to the lot line. 

Nonresidential uses can be varied and include retail, entertainment facilities, restaurants, offices and hotel usage. 

The single and two-story parcels are surrounded by a sea of upcoming development that’s transforming the eastern half of Main Street. One block east of the properties, One Main Plaza—slated for completion next year—is under construction at 1991 Main St. and will bring two 10-story buildings with 424 luxury apartments and 55,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, plus a Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store.

One block west of the properties, SOTA Hotel & Residences is set to soon break ground at 1703 Main St. and will bring 120 hotel rooms, 35 residences and a 4,500-square-foot ground-floor restaurant. 

Downtown core zoning can also take advantage of new affordable housing incentives recently OK’d by City of Sarasota commissioners. Under the new rules, if developers mark 15 percent of residential units as affordable—targeting households earning 80 percent to 120 percent of the area’s median income—they can build four times the number of units otherwise allowed. That amounts to $51,200 to $76,800 a year for one person and $65,800 to 98,760 a year for a household of three.

That incentive threshold, however, is lower than the state’s recently passed Live Local Act, which mandates density bonuses and other incentives if 40 percent of units are affordable.

“I don’t know what the buyers' intentions are for the properties, but they’re in great shape and [well-maintained],” says Eric Massey of Michael Saunders & Company, the agent who handled both ends of the Saunders buildings transaction. Terry Eastman and Tom Cinquegrano of Michael Saunders & Company handled the Reese's Service Station transaction.

“It's a marquee location. This part of downtown has taken a long time to come to fruition. It’s time for that,” Massey says.

Michael Saunders & Company employees who previously worked in the two buildings have moved to the Wells Fargo Advisors Building at 1605 Main St. 

As for his own business, “I'm not planning a farewell party or anything," Reese says. "I just want to slip off into the sunset, like they say."

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