A city review committee on Friday, June 8, selected a boutique hotel over a conventional Embassy Suites to be built adjacent to the Palm Avenue parking garage.
Angus Rogers, the head of the winning Floridays Development Corp., briefed the Downtown Improvement District about the project on Tuesday, June 12.
Rogers said the 180-room “lifestyle hotel” would be dedicated to being accessible to the arts. It will feature a two-story-tall lobby along Cocoanut Avenue that he says will be a “performance and display space.”
“This is not just for tourists, this is for everybody to enjoy,” he said. “It will have a restaurant, and we will own it and it will be open for breakfast and lunch so we can control the guest experience.”
Floridays beat a 200-room Embassy Suites proposal fielded by the Bridges-McKibbon team from Tampa and Gainesville, Ga.
The next step for Rogers is preparing a “term sheet” to present to the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board on June 28. That board’s recommendation will then go to the City Commission, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency.
“The hotel needs to renourish the area, making it an economic engine,” said Rogers.
He noted the Sarasota Opera and Florida Studio Theater are both very close to the hotel site. “We want this to be a four-star experience,” he said. “We won’t compete with the Ritz. But we want visitors to spend more than one night; we want them to stay three and four nights, and that’s how we’ll market it.”
Chris Gallagher with Jonathan Park Architects described an L-shaped, eight-story building featuring “step-backs” on the higher stories. Filling in the void in the “L” would be a pool deck with other outdoor recreation amenities. He said the firm is considering a flyover from the hotel structure to the Palm Avenue parking garage.
Staging for construction would use the alley between North Palm Avenue and First Street. That would be the site for the tower crane used to build the “L” structure to the west and south. Once finished, the space would be filled in for the banquet floor and outdoor recreation area on the second-floor roof.
Rogers is no stranger to Sarasota or local development. He relocated to Sarasota from Orlando eight years ago. He went on to develop the Grande Riviera on Golden Gate Point, “the one with the big gold dome,” he points out. With the same two partners – Bob Roskamp and Phil Kaltenbbacher – Floridays developed the enormous Sarasota Bay Club, as well as the Floridays Orlando Resort.
One big unknown remains: What is the hotel to be called? Rogers said he’s kicking around a few ideas, but has settled on “nothing yet.” If all goes well, Rogers said the hotel could be open “two Christmases from now.”