SARASOTA, Florida – The 13-acre Bath & Racquet Club has been sold to Sarasota Springs LLC for $15,350,000. The seller, developer Mark Lucas, originally contracted for the property in the first quarter of 2017. Lucas and his development team operated the club until February 2020. During this time Lucas and his development team worked through an arduous rezone process for new zoning and entitlements for the site. Kevin Robbins and Mitch Helmuth of Sarasota’s Harry E. Robbins Associates Inc. handled the sale.
Originally built in 1969, Bath & Racquet Club is located at 2170 Robinhood Street, just east of South Tamiami Trail at Glengary Street. Its existing community infrastructure includes a 40,000-square-foot fitness facility with a junior Olympic swimming pool, 29 tennis courts and a full-service restaurant.
Robbins, a Sarasota native, grew up less than a mile from the property.
“This site is strategically located in the heart of Sarasota,” said Robbins. “The Bath & Racquet has been a staple of the community for many years. Our firm was interested in being involved in the project due to the owners’ desire to retain the tennis and fitness center as part of the overall development concept. The developer was committed to retaining the iconic bath and racquet component. Other development companies only wanted to demolish.”
The purchase represents a joint venture between Federal Finance Group, led by founder and CEO Tan Bahia, and Silver Sky Global Capital, led by Founder and President Fabio Di Prima.
“We are delighted to have acquired this prime property and we look forward to enhancing the community and contributing to the further development of the city of Sarasota,” said Di Prima. “Our teams are already working to complete the design, architectural, engineering and the permitting stages, and we are envisioning to hit the ground within the end of 2022.”
In November 2021, previous owner Lucas received approval from the Sarasota City Commission to make significant changes to the development’s zoning and entitlements, increasing its residential and commercial capacities. Bath & Racquet’s new zoning and redevelopment plan accounts for 270 residential units and 45,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. The prior zoning had allowed for just over 100 residential units and nearly 200,000 square feet of office space.
“For 50 years, the beloved club provided a venue for community members to socialize,” said Michael Halflants of Halflants + Pichette Architects. The new design will create a large live-work-play community.
The rezone of the project was a significant task undertaken by Lucas and his development team.
“In my 35 years of development throughout multiple states and countries, the Bath & Racquet was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, developments of my career,” said Lucas. “I’m excited to watch the club become a successful development.”
The initial rezone petition was denied in 2020. The developers realized the value of the site. A new design plan and application were completed with architect Michael Halflant, with Robbins’ team acting as consultants. This new plan met the concerns of the surrounding community, while also satisfying the City Commission. Ultimately the City Commission awarded a 5-0 positive approval vote for the new development plan.
“The owner and architect really listened to the community and completely revamped their plan from what they initially proposed,” said Robbins sales associate Helmuth. “They reduced building height, realigned the site plan to try and put the taller buildings near U.S. 41 and away from homes, and even added a one-acre park for the community to enjoy. This will be an asset to the community and a model for how collaboration between developer and the neighborhood can work, and everybody wins.”
To initiate the sale, the owners first asked Robbins and Helmuth to locate a joint venture partner. Robbins and Helmuth posted a “Call for Offers” through their international network of commercial brokers, investors, and developers. The pair fielded more than 60 “legitimate interest” inquiries from development firms throughout the entire U.S., resulting in nearly a dozen unique offers.
“As expected, there was strong interest from local and regional development firms, as well as serious interest and offers from development firms in California, Texas, Montana, New York, and other states,” said Robbins. “This process really illustrated the interest in the Sarasota real estate market.”
Sarasota Springs was ultimately awarded the contract. The buyer was able to meet the seller’s terms and conditions largely due to the buyer’s understanding of the vision for the project, set by Lucas and his development team, as live-work-play, mixed-use project.
About Harry E. Robbins Associates Inc.
Founded in 1971, Harry E. Robbins Associates Inc. is Sarasota County’s longest established real estate firm under the same family ownership. Now in its 51st year, Robbins Real Estate is proud to have a team of 25 associates with extensive history in the Sarasota market and an unparalleled level of service and communication.