Friday, August 12 2022

A former dead zone just north of downtown Sarasota will breathe new life thanks to Whitaker Lofts, a new collection of 19 condos in a quarter-bundt cake building. A very modern and elegant in vanilla.

The empty lot at 1400 N. Tamiami Trail, directly across from the three historic red-brick buildings and courtyard that make up the Reserve Retreat cafe, restaurant and boutique hotel, will be the site of a four-story condominium and 19 units. . Across from the 14th Street Roundabout and Whitaker Gateway Park in the Central Cocoanut neighborhood, it will sit on a 0.62 acre lot anchored by a large oak tree preserved in the design. The land has been vacant for more than two decades on a section of the trail often considered degraded.

Whitaker Lofts is one of many upgrades along the North Trail in recent years, along with The Strand and The Embassy Suites at Fruitville Road. The Sarasota City Planning Board approved the project in a 4-0 vote earlier this month.

Architect Michael Halflants of local architecture firm Halflants + Pichette bought the vacant lot in 2017 for $750,000, before the roundabout went into effect. “Now that it’s in place, it becomes a pretty incredible opportunity,” he says. The firm has designed several condo projects in the nearby neighborhood of Rosemary. Halflants is also a member of the Sarasota planning board (he withdrew from the planning board agenda item since the project is one of his own). Team members Ana Meneses and Gabe Nisula led the presentation.

Jeffrey Oldenburg, owner of Indian Beach Plaza about 12 blocks north of the proposed development, was among a handful of public speakers who hosted Whitaker Lofts.

“It’s impeccably compatible. I have a lot of expertise in revitalizing degraded areas. Tamiami is the gateway to the city and this will elevate the level of what’s to come,” he said.

Jessica Simmons, owner of the Reserve Retreat, said: “I couldn’t imagine a better partnership across the street. I support it 100%.

Nine 900 square foot garden units will each have 12 foot ceilings, plus an elevated private courtyard facing the large 75 foot diameter oak tree. The 10 1,550-square-foot loft units above will have two-story spaces with rooftop terraces; they will open to a balcony overlooking Sarasota Bay.

The ground floor will house 8,400 square feet of trail-facing retail space and can be combined into two large or seven small spaces, depending on the seller’s needs.

Facilities hidden behind the lofts and under the natural canopy will include a swimming pool, spa and outdoor bar for residents.

Additional cafe seating will double portions of the sidewalk to an 18-foot width, well above the current 8-foot requirement. An extensive landscaped area designed by award-winning landscape architect Michael Gilkey is also offered along the sidewalk.

The project will take about 15 months to build, but Halflants expects to bring units to market in about six months. It’s too early to announce pricing, he says, so stay tuned.

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