Sarasota’s Barry D. Edwards and Associates hopes its planned 120,000-square-foot Clark Station stops traffic on Clark Road, the six-lane thoroughfare most tourists whiz down on their way to the white-sand beaches of Siesta Key.
Edwards says the area’s demographics and its location near Palmer Ranch and several new residential developments make it a prime spot for commercial and retail development.
“All the upscale car dealerships are out here,” says Edwards, who began developing medical facilities in Sarasota about 25 years ago, expanding into commercial. “They know what’s going on.”
Clark Station borders Rosin Way on the west and Honore Avenue on the east, a road that will eventually be a four-lane, north-south connector from Venice to Sarasota. That project may be a decade or so away.
There are Hummer, Mercedes and BMW dealerships within a few blocks of one another on Clark near I-75, but not much else in the way of shopping. Edwards envisions Clark Station as a Key West-style neighborhood hub with offices, restaurants and specialty retail where families can shop, dine and recreate around a two-acre lake. He plans to host community events on the 20-foot-deep lake, such as the annual Elks Fishing Rodeo.
Phase One, 45,000 square feet of lakeside office condominiums in one-and two-story buildings, is nearly finished. Phase Two, the retail-restaurant component, is scheduled to start soon with an expected completion in third-quarter 2008.
“It’ll be more of a regional center,” says Edwards. “The Clark-Honore corridor has been somewhat underdeveloped. There are a lot of rooftops but not a lot of restaurants.”
On the western border of Clark Station is the Rosin Way Office Park that Edwards developed a few years ago. Edwards has his office there along with Doctors Hospital’s daycare and fitness facilities.
Doctors Hospital on Bee Ridge and Cattlemen roads brought Edwards to Sarasota 10 years ago; he built the associated medical offices. “I fell in love with Sarasota,” Edwards says. So he decided to move his company here from New Orleans. It was a good move for several reasons: His former office and many of the medical buildings he developed were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina two years ago.
Edwards says he has developed over 1 million square feet of medical and office buildings and leasing and management services for over 2 million square feet of property throughout the U.S.
So when the Clark Station site came on the market three years ago, he jumped at the opportunity. But getting to the point where he could develop it was complicated.
The county required that Edwards and a few other developers spend about $3.5 million to upgrade the Honore-Clark Road intersection, and Edwards also had to also spend $500,000 to upgrade the Ashton-Honore intersection.
“It took more than a year to come to terms with the county,” Edwards says. “We were fortunate other developers entered into the agreement.”
Edwards says the office condominiums are about 70 percent sold, to both investors and end users. He’s expecting to have some retail agreements in place this summer. Leasing rates are $32 a square foot, triple net for general retail and $22.50 for office. Office condo shells are selling for about $278,000.
“We want it to be a nice, upscale place,” Edwards says. So far that means no big boxes. “We may get greedy eventually, but we’re not there yet,” he says.