Rosemary District owners welcome new residential projects

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Plans to develop Sarasota's historic Rosemary District are gaining momentum. The district is located just north of Fruitville Road, and the city's planning board unanimously approved a developer's request to build apartments this week.

Some say the district, just outside of the heart of downtown Sarasota, is a community ready for a boost.

"We've seen businesses come and go, but the place is really rocketing." Amanda Reil of Metro Pet Salon is one of many of business owners along Central Avenue who believe the area has much more to offer.

"There's so much potential and there's so much open space that a night life area would be great, small businesses would be great down here, and especially for young business owners like us we love the area. It's so beautiful and it's just waiting to be developed," says Mica Diadone of Seven Seas Tattoo & Apparel.

"Diversity, I love it. You got everything going on," says Duval of Cris P Cuts.

Developers are presenting their plan for a "Rosemary Residential Overlay District" between Fruitville Road and 10th Street, and Cocoanut and Orange avenues, which will include 400 apartments on Cocoanut near Boulevard of the Arts.

Their next step is to bring the project before the city commission and then the state.

"We're looking at projects that will encourage rental housing in the city of Sarsaota," says Sarasota commissioner Susan Chapman.

The city and state must first amend the city's comprehensive plan and zoning plan, but it already sounds promising. "We do want to encourage a younger hipper crowd in the Rosemary District," says Chapman.

Nearly 15 years ago, designers and Rosemary District residents, Alain Huin and his wife, saw the potential of the community,  purchased property and built a contemporary building to rent out to businesses. "We are artists, we have a vision, we thought it was a neat building."

Huin says first we need to provide housing to really make it a neighborhood and support the established and future businesses. "We should have a basis of residents to support that type of business."

The developers will present the overlay district plan to city commissioners next month, on June 19th. Next week, another developer will approach the city about a mixed use project for the Rosemary District.