Bee Ridge Road’s commercial landscape is functional, but often formless and haphazard, with boxy, aged buildings and retrofitted former homes.
“It’s a mishmash,” says dentist and developer Ken Schweizer. “There’s a lot of junk. We asked, ‘What can we build that people would recognize?’”
The answer is Schweizer’s eye-catching, modern medical professional center, Sterling Park. Located between Tuttle and Beneva roads, directly across from Incarnation Church, Sterling Park was built on a vacant lot that was known by locals for its annual Christmas tree sales. Schweizer purchased the land to build his own dental practice office in 2000. He had listed the adjacent lot for sale, but patients and medical peers kept noting the benefit of its central location between Doctors Hospital and Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Today, it’s no longer an empty lot, but a 17,371-square-foot-building with eight office bays and modern sculptural elements, including varied flat roof heights, attractive external stairwells and plenty of windows to allow maximum natural light.
“The front of the building faces north, so we had an opportunity to use a lot of glass,” says architect Phil Skirball of the Skirball Group. “It was also important that the tenants got maximum exposure to Bee Ridge Road. Everybody has frontage.”
The office spaces range in size from 1,800 square feet to a 2,500-square-foot suite with a 500-foot mezzanine, but they can also be combined. Five-year leases begin at $22 per square foot triple net, and include improvement allowances to finish the interiors.
The building materials were carefully chosen for their ease of maintenance, durability and visual appeal. The exterior is steel and ground face block, a polished block aggregate with a neutral tint, and the concrete walkways are embedded with shell. “I looked at Marina Jack and saw that type of walkway and how it had weathered with time,” says Schweizer. The windows are made of hurricane glass, and the roof was secured to withstand 150 mph winds.
The design also includes additional space for signage over each office that could be visible from the street. The building is named for Sterling Lane, the residential street that runs behind it.
Sterling Park’s highest point and signature element is an extension of the elevator hoistway, which is enclosed with glass. The tower contains a light source that can change color. At the street level, the parking lot stands out as well: It’s constructed of octagon-shaped pavers filled with gravel to absorb runoff.
The building’s greenest elements are the parking pavers, the overhangs that protect all the windows and ample natural light.
“When you have natural light, it’s been shown that productivity is dramatically increased. There’s less absenteeism,” Skirball says.
Sterling Park’s leasing agent is Lee De Lieto and Associates (sarasotacommercial.com), and project architect is James Piatchuk. The builder is Southern Cross Contracting, and the project engineer is Larry Weber of Weber Engineering. “Larry was instrumental in the process,” says Schweizer. “There are vaults underneath the eco-pavers that help with stormwater drainage. It was very effective and cost efficient, and enabled us to establish a larger footprint.”