Proposed redevelopment of Sarasota Square Mall to include about 500,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 1,200 dwelling units

Stantec acting on behalf of property owner, which is based in Illinois

In early 2021, many of the Sarasota County residents who lined up in a corridor of Sarasota Square Mall to get vaccinated against COVID-19 remarked on the emptiness of the building. Shoppers were far outnumbered by those awaiting their shots.

Because of the loss of retailers at the complex in recent years, Sarasota County commissioners have talked on several occasions about the prospect of a developer adding affordable dwelling units to the site, as a means not only of serving residents who have been desperate to find homes they can afford but also to spur redevelopment of the facilities. After all, commissioners pointed out, plenty of parking spaces and the necessary utility lines already were present.

Finally, a new vision for the mall has been proposed. However, it does not contain affordable housing.

In an April 20 letter to the Sarasota County Planning and Development Services Department staff, James A. Paulmann, vice president of community development for Stantec Consulting Services in Sarasota, submitted a pre-application for the redevelopment of Sarasota Square, The Sarasota News Leader learned this week.

Paulmann also requested a spot on the May 4 agenda of the county’s Development Review Committee (DRC) agenda, to discuss that preliminary application.

The DRC members represent county departments and divisions involved in land-use applications. They review proposals and offer suggestions and recommendations to ensure that the plans comply with county regulations and policies.

Paulmann noted in his letter that Stantec’s client is 8201 Sarasota Mall LLC, which is based in Northbrook, Illinois. That company purchased the majority of the mall property in September 2021 for $19 million, Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show. Michael K. Burns, president and CEO of Torburn Partners, a privately owned real estate investment firm, is the manager of 8201 Sarasota Mall LLC, Florida Division of Corporations records say.

In May 2021, the same limited liability company bought the former Macy’s store parcel for $5,550,000, the Property Appraiser’s Office records note. Then, in October 2022, 8201 Sarasota Mall bought the former Sears property for $10,750,000, county Property Appraiser’s Office records show.

Coyote Sarasota Mall LLC sold the majority of the mall site to Sarasota Shoppingtown LLC for $77 million in October 2003. That is the same portion for which 8201 Sarasota Mall paid $19 million, the county Property Appraiser’s Office records note.

The managing member of Sarasota Shoppingtown LLC is Westfield America Limited Partnership in Los Angeles, Florida Division of Corporations records say.

Paulmann explained in his letter that 8201 Sarasota Mall also owns the parts of the site where the Costco and the AMC movie theaters are located. Penney Property Sub Holdings LLC of Plano, Texas, continues to own the JCPenney store on the site, Property Appraiser Bill Furst’s website shows.

Plans call for the redevelopment of the 81.5 acres that 8201 Sarasota Mall owns to include up to 500,000 square feet of commercial, retail and office space and up to 1,200 residential dwelling units, Paulmann’s letter says. None of the residential units would be priced as affordable or workforce housing, the preliminary application says.

Further, the application notes that the potential sale and rental prices for the residences are not available yet.

An illustration included with the document shows three groups of residential units, with parking garages, immediately south of Sarasota Square Boulevard and west of an expanded parking area for Costco. A fitness center is depicted east of the dwellings.

That illustration also includes a block for a 40,000-square-foot grocery store near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Vamo Road, plus two blocks comprising 32,000 square feet each that are marked as “junior anchors.” One of those is shown slightly southwest of the AMC Theatres and east of the JCPenney store.

The redevelopment plans are predicated on County Commission approval of several steps, Paulmann pointed out. Among them are the following:

  • A Comprehensive Plan amendment that would change the designation of the approximately 2.8- acre parcel located east of U.S. 41 and north of Club Drive from Medium Density Residential — which allows between five and nine dwelling units per acre — to Regional Commercial Center on the Future Land Use Map for that part of the county.

“This is viewed as a ‘housekeeping item’ to result in the entirety of the Subject Property having the same, appropriate Regional Commercial Center Future Land Use Designation,” Paulmann pointed out.

  • An amendment to the U.S. 41/Beneva Road Sector Plan No. 84-02-Special Planning Amendment, “expanding the boundaries of the Sector Plan to include the balance of the designated Regional Commercial Center, located east of Beneva Road and south of Sarasota Square Boulevard, in accordance with the Critical Area Planning (CAP) Regulations.”
  • The rezoning of certain portions of the site from Commercial Shopping Center and Residential, Manufactured Home to Commercial General. Among those areas would be the former Macy’s and Sears stores, as well as the Costco and its gas station, the News Leader determined through a comparison of Property Appraiser Office records and the preliminary application.

5 thoughts on “Proposed redevelopment of Sarasota Square Mall to include about 500,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 1,200 dwelling units”

    • This project is an adaptive reuse within the urbanized area and not “sprawl” on the fringe. No new land is being developed. Redevelopment of infill property as a strategy is environmentally friendly. It helps to avoid blight, which draws crime and reduces surrounding property values. By developing within an urban area, this also reduces the pressure to develop green space, helping to preserve it.

  1. As a resident of nearby Gulf Gate, and one who misses the businesses at Sarasota Square, I’d love to see a return of shops and restaurants instead of another fitness center. Keep the greenery and trees, and protect the beautiful families of cranes and ducks. Build a park: Picnic tables and grills for families to enjoy outdoors.

  2. We don’t need another fitness center! We need nice shops and restaurants. Commercial developers keep putting all the restaurants and stores at University Town Center. Do the demographics, people! You have 10’s of thousands of homeowners right here south of Clark, and the money. We don’t want to go to UTC to shop! Even an upscale outlet mall here would be great. Another Trader Joe’s or Fresh Market would be great.

  3. We moved to Palmer Ranch from Northbrook, IL (same Chicago suburbs as Sarasota Square Mall redevelopment owner are registered in) in 2021, and live only a one minute drive from this virtually abandoned mall. We agree with previous comments and are glad that wise investors are coming to make Sarasota better and make money too. Comparing Chicago NorthWest suburbs to Sarasota area we see how much potential this area has to offer and how undeveloped it is right now … not suitable for mid-range and upper-range families with kids who recently moved here from north. Sarasota needs townhomes for working youth, families who appreciate urban style of living with close proximity to shops, Chicago-style European Grocery stores, small parks for kids to hang-out and play, and with local beach amenities – this is a missing link in Florida … either big homes east of i75, or old townhomes in Sarasota. We support the project!

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