Project would house a restaurant on the first level and preserve several large trees
An architect-developer is proposing a two-story, 6,740-square-foot commercial building on the east end of Main Street in downtown Sarasota.
The project, at 2101 Main St., would feature a first-floor restaurant with outdoor dining space, as presented to the city’s Development Review Committee (DRC) on Nov. 18. The location is at the northeast corner of Main Street and East Avenue. Preliminary discussion of the proposal came during the pre-submittal portion of the DRC meeting.
Developer-architect Barron Schimberg plans to save several large trees on the vacant site and incorporate them into the project, Joel Freedman, a planning consultant who is representing Schimburg, told city planning officials during the DRC session.
City of Sarasota planning records show Schimberg would like to preserve a cluster of trees. One is an oak whose trunk measures 31 inches in diameter — it would tower over the proposed outdoor dining area along Main Street — while a second oak, with a trunk 42 inches in diameter, would be saved on the opposite side of the parcel. To make it possible to keep the oak close to the Main Street side of the site, the developer is requesting an adjustment in the city’s façade requirements and a setback variance.
“He is an architect, and he is also going to be developing this building,” Freedman said of Schimberg when speaking with city planners during the DRC meeting. “He is moving forward on his own with this and is very excited. This is a pre-app[lication].”
Schimberg plans to lease the second floor to his architectural firm to serve as its office. In 2004, The Schimberg Group Inc. was hired by Whole Foods as the LEED consultant for the grocery chain’s downtown Sarasota location. Following the completion of that store, Whole Foods’ national office employed the firm to undertake architectural and interior planning work for its other stores, according to The Schimberg Group’s website.
“The ground floor is being looked at possibly as a restaurant,” Freedman said during the DRC meeting. “That’s why you can see on the architectural site plan we showed some outdoor seating under that grand oak on the front that is going to be preserved.
“Actually,” Freedman continued, “there are a lot of trees that are going to be preserved on that site.”
Schimberg told The Sarasota News Leader this week that he has the property under contract. He declined to comment on the specifics of the project until after he closes on the land transfer.
Schimberg also is requesting that the city allow him to situate the parking area and sidewalk further from East Avenue than allowed under setback guidelines. The plan is to incorporate an 8-foot-wide sidewalk in the site plan and create space for two parallel parking spaces on the street — perhaps setting the tone for future street improvements on East Avenue.
“We think it will set a precedent for East Avenue going north to Fruitville. [And] obviously it will help this building,” Freedman said.
The project would sit on the eastern edge of downtown, close to the 12th Circuit Court and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office facilities. It is also would stand to benefit from the possible development of county-owned land at the corner of U.S. 301 and Main Street. In 2013, the County Commission decided to try to find a firm to develop the highly visible, .95-acre property it owns there, which serves as a parking lot. Thus far, the county has had no success in securing a project for that site.