The Van Wezel Paradox: Symbolic of Sarasota’s Real Estate Dynamics

Today I am standing in front of the Van Wezel performing arts hall. Now in its 48th year, this venue has hosted thousands of events- from US Presidents to Broadway Shows. It is named for its primary benefactors, American immigrants Eugenia & Lewis Van Wezel.

Currently the Van Wezel is at the center of debate as Sarasota re-imagines this 50+ acre bayfront site. The issue is whether to keep the old building with its historic appeal, or build a new state-of-the-art performance hall- one that is up to present day design and functionality.

Old vs. New

I am calling this “the Van Wezel Paradox.” It is a microcosm of what is occurring in Sarasota. Publicly many are having a hard time with change, and the metamorphoses of Sarasota from a town to a city.

Yet statistically, Buyers are demonstrating with their money that they want all that new construction offers: higher ceilings, chic kitchens, floor to ceiling windows, walk in closets, and all the “smart” technology that comes with it. They also want location (water views or beach access) and the ability to walk to restaurants and amenities.

In last month’s newsletter, I talked about Tweeners. These are properties that need work, yet are in good locations. The reason they are good values is because they are slow to sell since most buyers want new properties. They require work to make them current for today’s market. Here again is the paradox: on the surface there is a verbal attachment to history, but when you follow the money it is buying new.

Breaking “New” Ground

Today I want to share three distinct projects that will intrigue Buyers who are looking for new:

  1. Payne Park Village on the eastern edge of downtown. There will be 135 spaces adjacent to the 40 acre Payne Park with its circus themed playground, skate park, and city managed tennis center.
  2. Quay Sarasota is a 14- acre site between the Ritz Carlton and Hyatt Regency. The current plan may include up to 695 condominiums, 175 hotel rooms and 200,000 square foot of retail and office space.
  3. Williams Parker Site. This local law firm has sold its 3.3 acre property bordering Orange and Ringling Avenues downtown. The property is currently zoned for 160 units and is a great residential location in the city center.

If you are a buyer looking for water views downtown, three properties that deserve a second look are Bay Plaza, the VUE (where there are a limited number of resales), and Epoch (with very large floor plans).

Sarasota is moving forward- and while that can frustrating and change difficult- I personally feel that the amenities and quality of life will continue to improve. As always, I still believe that your investment should be based on lifestyle- which starts with the location that is best suited for you.

Call me (941.587.0740) for a private orientation to the old and the new.

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