The zone change allows an increase in height limitations.

Image: Kim Doleatto

A new luxury high-rise called Rosewood Residences—slated for the the site of the historic Gulf Beach Resort Motel and Coquina on the Beach on Lido Key—can now include up to 70 condominium units and have a maximum height of 135 feet, thanks to a rezoning application OK'd at yesterday’s City of Sarasota commission meeting.

Built in 1950, ​​the Gulf Beach Resort Motel, located at 930 Benjamin Franklin Drive, was made up of 43 one-bedroom apartments, each with a full kitchen. It was designated as a historic landmark to keep it safe from demolition, but in 2021, the motel’s humble charm turned into pricey upkeep, and the costs associated with bringing the units up to current code compliance were too steep for its owners. They decided to sell, and in January, the motel was purchased for $23.5 million by Ronto Group, a Naples-based developer. The City of Sarasota’s Historic Preservation Board voted 5 to 1 to demolish the structure on the almost 4-acre beachfront property.

According to a presentation Ronto Group shared with the Lido Key Residents Association during a Gulf Beach Motel community workshop on Nov. 6, plans for the proposed luxury condominium include a residents-only bistro, yoga studio, fitness center and social rooms.

At previous meetings, representatives for Ronto Group indicated the project would be 10 stories tall. But since then, Ronto Group has since partnered with Wheelock Street Capital, a real estate investment firm, as well as ​​Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, to bring the high-rise to completion. It's Rosewood's first stand-alone residential project.

The rezone turns the original Residential Multiple Family 4 designation to Waterfront Resort designation, increasing the maximum buildable height from 95 feet to 135 feet. Although some neighboring residents spoke against the project, the majority of the city commission felt it would be compatible with its surroundings.

The rezoning allows a maximum density of 70 units, with a minimum rental period of a month, no more than three times a year. A restaurant would be limited to residents and condo guests.

The project will include a 5-foot access setback on the north side of the property to allow beach access. The original motel sign will be incorporated in the new development.

Construction will be completed in 2025 and sales reservations begin this month. According to a press release, the residences will average approximately 4,200 square feet. Other onsite amenities will include outdoor pools, massage rooms, private guest suites with housekeeping service, a lounge featuring a library and game room, and a 24-hour concierge. Pricing has not yet been announced.

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