Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Details on Latest Sarasota Hotel

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Details on Latest Sarasota Hotel

Article excerpt

PROPOSAL TO CITY MONDAY: Palm Avenue facility would use public garage

SARASOTA

Angus Rogers hopes to succeed where others have failed.

To do so, though, Rogers' concept for a "boutique" hotel on city land adjacent to downtown's Palm Avenue parking garage will have to attract the arts-and-culture segment of the tourism market.

If an agreement for Rogers' Floridays Development Co. to buy the Palm Avenue property for $2.5 million is approved by city commissioners Monday, the hotel could be built and operating my mid- 2015.

Over the last decade, at least a half-dozen developers have pitched large hotel plans for Sarasota's downtown core. None of them came to fruition.

But city officials contend a hotel adjacent to the garage will enliven the entire section of downtown. It was, in fact, part of the rationale for the city's 2010 construction of the $14 million garage.

"Having a hotel in the center of your downtown, particularly a boutique hotel that's tied into the performing arts and the amenities of your downtown, helps generate pedestrian traffic," said Steve Stancel, a chief planner for the city.

"People staying in your downtown helps utilize your restaurants and shops."

Rogers notes that the sale agreement with the city starts a long process that includes finding financial partners to back the proposed $40 million hotel. He says he has gotten "significant interest" from would-be financial partners, partly because of the expectation that the economy will be better by the time the hotel opens.

While Rogers says he is open to talking to chains, he thinks it is more likely the Palm Avenue hotel will be independent, like the 432-room, $125 million Floridays Orlando Resort that Rogers' group built in 2006 and still manages.

Chain hotels often have strict guidelines for construction and design that Rogers believes can hamper creativity and functionality.

"You can't have Days Inn tell me how to design it when I'm designing it for the market," he said.

Among the details in the contract that will be presented to the commission Monday are:

The hotel must be "4 Star" quality.

It will have between 160 and 200 guest rooms.

There will be a minimum of 6,000 square feet of both ballroom and meeting space. …

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