New owner plans to rebuild and bring property up to code and back to life
SARASOTA, Fla. – Seaward Development, a Sarasota-based boutique property development firm specializing in one-of-a-kind single-family homes, luxury condominiums and commercial properties, is currently under contract to purchase the Mira Mar building on Palm Avenue from the longtime property owner.
“Our corporate office has been located at Mira Mar Plaza for the past five years and we love the charming, walkable location in the heart of downtown Sarasota on this well-known and historical address on Palm Avenue,” said Patrick DiPinto, managing partner of the local firm. “We carefully select projects that we know our team can deliver with the highest level of quality that will stand the test of time and create a long-term legacy in the marketplace.”
The company is in the due diligence period of the purchase agreement and is expecting a third quarter closing on the property. During due diligence, a number of engineering inspections were ordered by the current property owner revealing that the building had gone through several substantial remodels, causing its rejection from the state of Florida for historical designation.
Additionally, although the current owner has performed substantial repairs on the building over the past 20 years, according to engineers the 100-year-old wood frame building has extensive damage including drastically undersized foundations, badly corroded structural wood wall studs, extensive insect damage and wood rot in all locations observed, highly irregular framing configurations that call into question the load path for gravity loads, and walls observed with no lateral resistance to wind loads. The Sarasota County Property Appraiser has assessed the building’s value at approximately $2 million and repairs needed exceed more than $22 million.
“We considered remodeling the property as we love it just like the community does, but due to the declining state of the building, that is not feasible, which is why we are asking for a demolition permit,” said DiPinto. “However, our goal is to bring the Mira Mar back to life so that the community can enjoy it for the next 100 years as a true legacy project.”
The current building has been renovated several times since its original construction in the 1920s. Future plans for the property include keeping its current zoning for a ten-story building with two floors of retail fronting Palm Avenue, and the addition of a residential component set back behind the commercial component as homage to the original look and design of the property when the Mira Mar Hotel stood tall in the early 1900s.
“Many of the building materials used here have gone beyond their lifecycle and for that reason, our plan is to work with historical preservation specialists and a local salvage firm to keep what we can and preserve the building’s unique legacy and charm, but also build a new and safe property for tenants, visitors and future residents,” said Matthew Leake, president of Seaward Development. “As a local development firm, it is important to us as long-term residents here to keep the charm, character and original design elements of the building, but also bring it up-to-date in safety and function.”
In 1983, The National Register of Historic Places rejected the property’s application for historical designation due to extensive renovations that destroyed many historic elements.
“The current building is not in its original state as it has been remade after substantial renovations in the 1980s due to degraded conditions,” said Leake. “Our true vision is to replace the current Mira Mar with a new and improved, safe building with code compliant foundations, impact-resistant glass throughout the building and proper structural components.”
“Unfortunately, Mira Mar has now passed its useful life and a confluence of situations have led to the professional realization that repairs and restoration are not a fiscal option for the permanent sustained future,” said Dr. Mark Kauffman, current owner of the building. “Destructive inspection that entailed cutting holes in the outside walls in about 15 places so the entire structure could be inspected… mandated an extensive structure repair is required… plus that would require building evacuation during a two-year rehab project while the carrying expenses continued (taxes, insurance, mortgage), then re-populating with new tenants. We slowly came to the realization that it would be fiscally prudent and more sustaining to demo the building, and replace the 40-year-old replica, with a new replica. This would produce permanence and retain the existing charm and ambiance of Palm Avenue. There is no other reasonable option. At this time, we became more interested in the offer to sell the asset to a major reputable local firm who had the expertise and ability to do just that. We respect history. We love history. As do the new buyers. It is so easy for citizens, staff, boards, newspapers, to demand repair, but nobody wants to donate the required extraordinary level of assets to that cause. The building just cannot afford that investment or borrow that level of cash. We think we, and the new owners, have the perfect solution to an unsolvable problem. The perfect storm has led to this situation and with public patience and understanding we will have the permanent beautiful solution. We are saving history, not destroying it.”
Kauffman added that, “If demo is not allowed, we will allow leases to run out over the next two years then close the building and fence it off, and allow it to decay as we cannot afford the repairs anymore.”
Seaward Development has built several notable projects in the area including Epoch Residences in downtown Sarasota, Park Residences on Lido Key and several high-end luxury single-family residences.
About Seaward Development
Established in 2009, Seaward Development is a Sarasota, Fla. based boutique property development firm specializing in one-of-a-kind single-family homes, luxury condominiums and commercial properties. The firm’s focus on client relationships, superior quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail sets the firm apart in the marketplace and has allowed it to fulfill a unique market niche and develop premier projects.
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