Developer says downtown Sarasota needs more housing

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SARASOTA - By the end of the year, a vacant lot on Ringling Boulevard will have townhomes with people living in them, the property's developer says.

Jim Bridges of JEBCO Ventures, Inc. believes that downtown Sarasota needs more housing, and that's why he plans preliminary site work on the land sandwiched between two law offices Thursday. Plans for the project, simply called Q, call for 39 two and three-story homes that range in size from 1,889 to 4,276 square feet. Bridges says prices start in the high $300,000s.

"The price was right at the time," Bridges says of buying the property one block west of the Sarasota County administration building. "We know the market is here because of the number of calls we've gotten before we've even started marketing the property."

A sign on the property reads, "now accepting contracts for fall 2013 delivery." Bridges concedes that the first residents won't move in until at least December, blaming the delay on a site plan change involving alleyways. He expects to get construction permits in a week. JEBCO already has permits to begin clearing the site and begin grading it, Bridges says.

Q marks the second downtown development announced in the past year. Demolition of the popular Sports Page restaurant on Main Street clears the way for construction of the Jewel on the corner of Main and Gulfstream Avenue.

Bridges says we can expect more to come. "I know other developers are interested, and we're interested in more opportunities," Bridges says. "We know the timing's right." He says JEBCO owns several other properties downtown that it plans to develop, including one on the southeast corner of Fruitville Road and Tamiami Trail, where it plans to build a hotel.