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The Blossoming of Downtown - Spring 2019

1,678 - Number of new downtown residences added between 2001-2010

In the past 20 years downtown Sarasota has certainly blossomed into an active and vibrant place to live, work and play. The question is why? The answer is simple – residents. Beginning in about 2000, tremendous interest nationwide erupted by those who wanted to move back to urban areas. Sarasota also rode that wave. Just prior, the only new residential developments in 25-years downtown were Sarabande, Tessera and the Palm Avenue Villas, which were built in the late 1990s. At that time, demand for downtown living was minimal, and that, coupled with the financing difficulties of the 1990s kept downtown largely barren of new residents. Enter the early 2000s, when more people wanted an active downtown lifestyle and perhaps a beautiful view of the water. In response, developers built residential projects like Marina Towers, The Renaissance, the Ritz-Carlton and others. Collectively, they transformed our downtown by bringing new customers for shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. The new residents garnered attention as they became an economic and political force, as well. Prior to 1990 there were approximately 1,588 residences in the downtown area, including Golden Gate Point. Between 1991 and 2000 only 81 residences were added to the same area. From 2001 to 2010, however, a staggering 1,678 units were added in less than a decade, ramping up buying power, political power and community power.  Those same residences became a catalyst for an unprecedented wave of revitalization and repurposing of our commercial space, in the form of added retail, restaurants and upgraded storefronts that we enjoy to this day attracting tourists and potential future residents. The city’s Downtown Master Plan did play a part, as the Rosemary District and Burns Square areas were rezoned to one of the new downtown zones. The core was less impacted by the new master plan as the C-CBD zoning that was replaced by a very similar DTC permitted the mixed-use so popular with new urbanism. And 1,335 residential units were added from 2011-2018.