Article by Josh Salman, originally published by Sarasota Herald-Tribune on Jun 21, 2013.
Photo Credit: Kolter

SARASOTA – One of the most ambitious real estate developments planned for Southwest Florida during the mid-2000s housing boom is moving forward again, the most telltale sign of recovery since the local economy slumped seven years ago.

Kolter Group LLC’s plan to resurrect its 18-story Grand Sarasotan luxury condominium project — albeit with a new name — also represents the largest new residential development in Sarasota to consider moving ahead since 1350 Main St. was completed in 2006.

Moreover, at a time when many developments are being scaled back, the West Palm Beach-based Kolter is expanding, with plans to add a 275-room hotel to a site that is slated to carry a Weston flag, according to preliminary plans filed with the city.

In all, Kolter is likely to invest roughly $300 million to develop its vacant land at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue into the Gulfstream Sarasota, as it will be called, a site that previously was occupied by a Holiday Inn and a Denny’s.

Kolter acquired the land for a record $40 million in March 2005, but its plans for its 144-unit tower — with an average unit price of $1.45 million — fizzled when the market soured two years later.

Now, the project’s unexpected rebirth illustrates just how far the market in Southwest Florida has come, with conditions that mirror the housing boom of the past decade.

“It’s shocking,” said Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant in Deerfield Beach. “A lot of developers that held onto choice sites like this have instead downsized from their boom-time dreams. It shows a lot of confidence by this developer.”

But McCabe cautions that Kolter’s plans have many hurdles ahead.