Should Denser Development Come to the Rosemary District?

Hot topics, talk and history.

By Cooper Levey-Baker June 26, 2014

For years, Sarasota’s Rosemary District’s proximity to downtown and wide-open properties have seemed to make it ripe for development. But new development has been slow to come. A proposal for a Rosemary Residential Overlay District would allow denser residential projects if they comply with current height and design rules. What would that mean for the neighborhood?

“The way you revitalize [that] area is you get more people living there, and there’s a significant gap in supply versus demand for downtown apartments. The Overlay District would allow you to cluster that density onto parcels, but we’d keep the overall cap of 1,775 units.” —Attorney Bill Merrill, who worked with Rosalyne Holdings and the City of Sarasota to develop the Overlay District plan

“I’m in favor of increasing density in neighborhoods close to downtown. In the Rosemary District we have dozens of restaurants within a short walking distance. Fruitville would need to be reworked. There’s no need for a highway cutting off the district from the rest of downtown.” —Architect Michael Halflants, who has worked in the Rosemary District since 2006

“I grew up in France and you do everything around your block. You go to your bakery and restaurants there; there’s shopping right there. You don’t take your car, and you know everybody. It’s much better to have more people in the streets.” —Christophe Coutelle, who with his wife opened the restaurant Lolita Tartine in the dstrict last fall

“There’s definitely a need for close-to-downtown rental housing and that’s the most likely spot. That tract could also help us with transit planning: You could do multi-modal transit all the way up to Ringling College on Central Avenue, for example.” —Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman

“I can see downtown Sarasota as a Santa Monica or a Venice, because of the scale, the walkability, the artistic community. There really is no other place in Sarasota where you’re going to get a new neighborhood identity. The Rosemary District just screamed at me, ‘This is where you need to be’.” —First-time developer Kevin Bryon, currently building Vanguard Lofts on Fourth Street

Just Sayin’

“If [sea level rise] is real, it’s going to challenge us in ways we have not yet come to grips with. This will be the most compelling issue in the coming decades.” —Longboat Key Town Manager Dave Bullock, when asked at Tiger Bay what will be the island’s biggest challenge in the near future

Vintage warmemorial oqejtp

Vintage Sarasota: American Legion War Memorial

The American Legion War Memorial, located in the center of Five Points in downtown Sarasota, was built to honor Sarasotans who served in World War I. On Nov. 12, 1928—the 10th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I—a dedication ceremony took place at the memorial. The photo shown here, taken circa 1940, shows another ceremony at Five Points; the monument was moved to Bayfront Park in the spring of 1954.

This article appears in the July 2014 issue of Sarasota Magazine. Like what you read? Click here to subscribe. >>