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400 apartments, 37 townhomes, restaurant coming across 301 in downtown Sarasota

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SARASOTA, Fla. -  There are a number of projects in various stages of development in the often-overlooked section between Fruitville, Main and Ringling.

Barron Schimberg is the architect and developer of a new restaurant and office building that would go on an empty lot at the corner of Main and East.  

That restaurant will be a "Sofrito Mama's" like the one on North Beneva. Schimberg says the area around the courthouse and sheriff's office is overdue for a place to have lunch and dinner.

"There are close to 7,000 employees going in and out of that area. It's a no brainer in terms of population in that area. Right now people have to go over 301 to eat. So by putting a restaurant there, it really is going to appeal to a lot of people who want a great lunch," Schimberg said.

He says they plan to break ground next month and be finished in the first quarter of 2017. 

Around the corner between Main and Fruitville near School Avenue, land is being prepared for a 37-unit townhouse complex proposal. 

And across the street, an empty parking lot will soon be VW Village, developer Harvey Vengroff's nearly 400 affordable apartments designed for the service industry that works downtown.

Dan Lobeck has worked in this growing area for years, and is also head of the group "Control Growth Now." He calls it a mixed blessing. 

"We always could use a new restaurant in the area...offices near the courthouse...and apartments for younger workers.  Better than urban sprawl, but we certainly have to worry about the traffic on Fruitville, it's totally gridlocked.  Within balance within scale, it seems to be a move in the right direction," Lobeck said.