Miami? The flavor not the size


People fear Sarasota is becoming too much like Miami. Having spent some time there, I can assure you, it is not even close.

You could fit all the condo apartments in downtown Sarasota into a few square blocks centering on Brickell Avenue near the Miami River and still be way behind on the unit count.

However, you can sniff some of the Miami flavor in the new luxury rental high-rise about to be built on Second Street just north of the 100 Central condominium and Whole Foods Market. Hoyt Architects is building a colorful, 10-story, mixed-use project that looks like the little brother of some of Miami’s hip, edgy, and much taller, buildings.

Gary Hoyt says the architecture of the Second Street building (as yet unnamed) is “Florida, fresh and fun,” much like so many Miami high-rises, which go 40 stories or higher. But he also says downtown Sarasota has an advantage over downtown Miami.

“Sarasota is the walkable Brickell,” he said, noting that the red-hot Miami avenue is “so car-related.” There, he added, you have busy streets and buildings with parking garages and “pretty nice towers” above them. “What Sarasota has done is activate the street plane more effectively than many other cities.

“We are lower than Brickell, but much more walkable, and with that adjacency to the water. They have fun stuff going up, for sure, but we are the walkable Brickell, and that will make a big difference as we evolve, because it will allow us to have a lot of good street activity.”

The biggest change Hoyt sees in downtown Sarasota is that high-rises are moving off the water. A decade ago, developers complained that all the good waterfront condo pads were taken. Now, they don’t care.

“There are layers to this city now,” Hoyt said. “It used to be a necklace of edge buildings taking advantage of water views. Today, that is not the case. Now there are layers of activity happening. That is a pretty big deal.

“Historically, if you couldn’t get a piece of water, it made it hard to justify the building,” he added. “That is what drove the early phases of development here. Now people realize that it is actually a delightful place to be, to interact in the city. It has the natural things a city needs, but it also has a sense of its own place. And that is quite different.”

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: November 2, 2015
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