Plans to redevelop Rosemary District take big step forward

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Plans to redevelop Sarasota’s historic Rosemary District are making major strides.

"The Rosemary District is in need of redevelopment,” says Sarasota Vice Mayor Susan Chapman. “There are large tracts of vacant land that need to be redeveloped, and it's a prime opportunity to redevelop for walk-to-town or bicycle-to-town housing."

The commission's approval of a purchase and sale agreement for Rosemary Square allows architects to design a mixed-use property on Boulevard of the Arts and Fifth Street, bringing in affordable rental housing, retail space and a boutique theater to the area.

"We really want to kind of put a spotlight on the face that this area has a lot going for it,” says Sarasota Square architect Jonathan Parks, “and the economic generator that we're envisioning is not only for this block and this area, but also to move itself out into other blocks and other areas."

The new Rosemary Residential Overlay District approved by the city triples residential density to 75 units per acre, and will allow for more affordable rental properties within 10th Street, Fruitville road, and Orange and Cocoanut avenues. The ruling clears the way for a private developer to build 500-1000 square foot apartments on the 6 acre property at Florida Avenue, 6th Street and Cocoanut Avenue.

Michael Lenza, owner of Sarasota Fitness Studio, is hopeful that now the Rosemary District will have its own identity within the downtown area.

"I think this district could really lend itself to that arts and a little just... shops that you don't see everywhere," he says.

City officials hope the proposed developments are just what they've been waiting for, and they believe these projects will the catalyst for the Rosemary District.