Monday, March 20, 2006

DeMarcay Proposal Details

Details are beginning to emerge about DeMarcay proposal. From Kevin McQuaid's article today's SHT:

Palm Avenue Partners LLC's plans for The DeMarcay, at 33 S. Palm Ave., call for 39 condos and a 150-seat restaurant in an 18-story tower.

If approved, The DeMarcay would be adjacent to a 17-story tower under construction at 1350 Main St., but "less intrusive" in scale, plans filed with the city show.

Palm Avenue Partners, a group formed by Peoria, Ill.-based Leiter Group LLC, also hopes to take advantage of the city's Downtown Residential Overlay District and provide "a residential product at a reasonable cost."Matthew Leiter, a Leiter Group vice president, said units will range from the $400,000s to $2 million.The overlay designation would be significant because without it, Leiter could construct only nine units.

Leiter hopes The DeMarcay -- the current home to Design Impressions Gallery -- will win over Sarasota leaders with its "adaptive re-use" of the former hotel's two-story facade.The design for the 115,000-square-foot project, set to include a rooftop clubhouse, fitness center and pool, will come from Urban Order Inc."

We want to do something to preserve the current Palm Avenue elevation," Leiter said of the DeMarcay Hotel, a Mediterranean Revival building that dates to 1922.But The DeMarcay faces numerous obstacles.

For starters, both the DeMarcay and the two-story Roth Cigar Factory building next door are on the National Register of Historic Places. Leiter claims both buildings are "functionally obsolete."But the real rub with The DeMarcay is its proposed drive aisles and parking. Leiter is proposing the project's 54 parking spaces be operated by 24-hour valet, using a system of elevators.City officials aren't sold.

"The bottom line is, we do not believe this plan meets zoning code standards," Tim Litchet, the city's director of Building, Zoning and Code Enforcement, wrote March 8 of the DeMarcay plan.

Leiter contends the city's concerns have been largely addressed. The developer hopes to start construction in October and wrap The DeMarcay in April 2008.

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