2015 was indeed a stellar year for business development in downtown Sarasota, and judging by all the construction cranes, this growth spurt will spill over well into 2016. Last year at this time, we took a look at major changes coming to downtown in the year ahead; now it's high time to recap those developments and take a peek at what's in store for downtown Sarasota in 2016.
Get a Room, Sarasota!
Probably the biggest change that has come to downtown Sarasota in recent memory is the construction of quite a few new hotels. Hotels in the downtown area will bring a tremendous boom to the local economy, providing local employment and an influx of patrons for downtown businesses. Property values could also rise as more leisure and business travelers discover that Sarasota is more than just a vacation destination.
Here is a quick rundown of the downtown Sarasota hotels that are under construction or opening in 2016:
Aloft Hotel - 240 S. Pineapple Ave., 138 rooms
Hotel Sarasota - North Palm Avenue (adjacent to the Palm Ave. parking garage), 164 rooms
Embassy Suites & Spa - 202 N. Tamiami Trail, 180 rooms
Westin - Gulfstream Avenue and North Tamiami Trail, 255 rooms
Sarasota Marriott - 332 N. Tamiami Trail, 200 rooms
Downtown Sarasota Has a Mall?
On top of all the excitement about the new hotels, we're hearing a lot of buzz about the sale of the Main Plaza/Hollywood 20 property on the east end of Main Street. The size of this somewhat vacant mall space may not be noticeable from the street, but it covers nearly eight acres. While are no details yet on what's in store for the property, it was purchased by golfer Greg Norman and local investors Jesse Biter, David Chessler, and Eric Baird, and they are promising a huge revitalization for the east end of Main Street. Although the Applebee's restaurant at the location closed this year (before the sale), it's unlikely that there will be any major changes to the existing businesses at the location, which includes the beloved Hollywood 20.
Now Open for Business
Last year we mentioned a few businesses that were slated to open in 2015, and most are indeed now open for business! The Urbanite Theatre has been making a lot of waves with its edgy, contemporary performances; true to its name, the venue has brought an urban flair to the local theater scene. Two other popular new establishments are World of Beer and Evie's Tavern and Grill. Both locations are right on Main Street, and in case you haven't heard: Evie's is more than just a restaurant -- it also features a small bowling alley!
We Missed the Bus
On the restaurant scene, there's been some sad news for fans of the Tampa-based Taco Bus chain. The new Sarasota location that was to open on Main Street has been nixed by the chain owners. There is talk, however, that another Tampa restaurant, an upscale tapas bar and lounge called the Cask & Ale, will take its place.
“Locally Grown” Is the Theme for 2016!
For those interested in more sustainable and healthy fare, good news abounds! A well-loved farm-to-table restaurant in Tampa is coming to Sarasota! The Boca Kitchen Bar Market is known for locally-sourced fare and communal seating. Although there is no word on a specific location yet, downtown SRQ is a distinct possibility, since the original restaurant is located in a converted Hyde Park garage and gas station. Also, the owners of the Pomona Bistro & Wine Bar are opening a new restaurant concept on Main Street between Evie's Tavern and Grill and Pho Cali. Named Lila, the restaurant will specialize in organic, locally-sourced vegetable dishes and offer a healthy, affordable, and casual alternative to downtown dining.
Bring on 2016!
It's important to note that all the new hotels and businesses opening up in downtown Sarasota means jobs and an infusion of outside money to our local economy. As mentioned above, this will undoubtedly help our already booming real estate market, but more importantly, make downtown Sarasota a better place to live and play for everyone. If you want to learn more about living in or near downtown SRQ, please don't hesitate to contact me!
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist