Sarasota's Boatyard Has Sold

The Boatyard, a 2.03-acre waterfront parcel at the base of the Stickney Point Bridge, was purchased by a local real estate and hospitality mogul for roughly $8 million.

By Kim Doleatto February 5, 2024

Local real estate and hospitality entrepreneur Chris Brown just purchased the 2.03-acre Boatyard parcel on Stickney Point Road, on the mainland of the Intracoastal Waterway, at the base of the south bridge to Siesta Key.

Reminiscent of a New England fishing village, the 20,121-square-foot shopping center has 20 different property IDs, according to public records, with retail and commercial tenants including The Boatyard Waterfront Bar and Grill, Siesta Key Watersports, and a salon and spa. Roughly half, Brown says, are vacant. 

The Boatyard on Stickney Point Road.

Image: Google Maps

Aerial view of the Boatyard parcel.

Built in 1983, the Boatyard has 675 feet of water frontage and a few dozen boat slips with deeded canal-front access to Sarasota Bay, Little Sarasota Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. Zoned "commercial intensive," the parcel allows for condos or even a hotel. But Brown doesn't have any fixed plans.

"We still have to assess it. Some tenants have been there a long time and I want to keep them there, but [the property] needs some updates," he says. "There might be an opportunity to add docks, but until I get the experts and engineers there, I won't know. Some of the docks in the front don't get used very much, and it's tough to get in there during low tide, so there's potential for dredging."

The main takeaway, he says, is "I want people to look over there and notice it, and pull in to check it out."

The seller was Sarasota Boatyard Village LLC, led by Michael Caldwell who purchased it from original owner George Perreault, who passed away in 2019. The buyer was Big Main Street LLC, led by Brown. The transaction closed on Feb. 1. 

Perreault originally listed the property for $14.5 million in 2016 but got no takers. This transaction reflected a roughly $8 million price tag. Like much of the local landscape, the neighborhood where the Boatyard sits is seeing changes. It sits just down the road from a 25-acre tract where Benderson Development plans to build Siesta Promenade—a 220-room hotel, 575 condominiums and 265,000 square feet of retail space.

Brown, along with Mike Granthon, is also the co-founder of the Above the Bar Hospitality Group, which owns some of Siesta Key’s most popular restaurants like The Summer House, The Beach Club, My Village Pub (MVP), The Cottage, The Hub Baja Grill. On the mainland, Above the Bar owns Mad Moe’s Sports Pub & Grill in Osprey and Joe’s (formerly Smokin’ Joe’s) on Main Street. 

Brown also owns properties occupied by Morton’s Siesta Market and Another Broken Egg Cafe, located next door to MVP on Avenida Messina on Siesta Key. Just last year, he also acquired the Art Uptown Gallery and Cafe Amici restaurant addresses on Main Street in downtown Sarasota. A tenant for the former gallery is still being weighed, while the popular Cafe Amici restaurant is staying put. Other upcoming projects too early to speak to are in the works, Brown says.

"We had offers from investment companies from New York, Chicago and Tampa, but ultimately, because Chris knows the market, he was able to reach the seller's terms, so he was the winning buyer," says Kevin Robbins, who along with Troy Robbins, both of Harry E. Robbins Associates, handled both sides of the transaction. "The interest speaks to the eyes that are on Sarasota," he adds.

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