Downtown projects good for some, not all

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Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 10:21 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The old DeMarcay Hotel is one of the prettiest buildings on Palm Avenue and part of the National Historic Register.

For the past four years, "Cafe Posh" has sold coffee in the back and had retail up front. But now the building's new owners didn't renew Mark Holt's lease.

"We don't want to leave this building, but it has sold and they have plans for development," Holt said.

Illinois-based developers refused to tell us what they plan--but the buzz has ranged from a bank to an 18-story high rise. Whatever it is, they'd need to work closely with city hall preservationists.

"There would be some processes the new owner would have to go through as far as working with the National Register if they wanted to have any modifications done," said Sarasota City Hall Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg.

This is one of about a dozen projects downtown in various stages of development. Here's an update:

*The Jewel is expected to start construction any day on a 19-story high-rise at the foot of Main Street.

*The VUE--next to the Ritz Carlton-- has also cleared land and remains in a holding pattern pending a traffic study.

*The foundation is underway at the A Loft Hotel on Palm near Ringling but they're waiting for permits before they can 'go vertical.'

*Forty condos are coming closer to completion on Ringling near Osprey at "Q."

*Construction begins May 19th that will convert a city parking lot at Lemon and State into the city's next parking garage.

*And even the embattled Dolphin Tower is now moving forward--undergoing a $9 million dollar rehab, nearly four years after cracks in the foundation forced residents to leave on short notice.

"This is the busiest I've seen it since 2005," Thornburg said.

And while all this activity is exciting for some, it's bittersweet for Mark Holt who's having to pack up his store, piece by piece and move out.

They plan to relocate to Venice.

"I'm going to miss it, we put our heart and soul in this place," he said.

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