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Sarasota's historic DeMarcay to reopen as luxury condo tower

New life is coming to the historic DeMarcay Hotel in downtown Sarasota, which is currently under construction and will reopen as an 18-story luxury condo tower.
 
The 39-unit tower will have many amenities including a rooftop pool, outdoor kitchen, club room and fitness center high above the city on the 18th floor.
 
“No other condominium in downtown has an amenities level at the top of its building,” says Perry Corneau, New Development Manager with Sotheby’s International Realty, which is handling sales for the tower. “The building will also have valet service and an elevator system to bring the residents' cars to the parking levels on the second through sixth floors.”
 
Corneau goes on to say that the façade of the original historic building will be incorporated into the new structure.
 
Unit sizes at DeMarcay at 33 South Palm range from 1,100-square-feet to over 3,000-square-feet and each unit has a balcony with a gas grill. Prices range from $600,000 to over $3.1 million per unit.
 
While construction has yet to start, units have already been sold.
 
“To date 13 of the 39 units have been reserved,” Corneau says. “Total sellout of the 39 units is expected to be in excess of $50 million.”
 
Construction is expected to be completed by spring of 2017.

Downtown Clearwater: development brings residential, restaurants, retail

Walk the streets of downtown Clearwater and you will see cranes in the air, traffic cones lining the streets and the feeling that a lot of change is coming to the neighborhood.
 
“The city and the community redevelopment agency’s (CRA) redevelopment strategy emphasizes the creation of a significant residential concentration in and around the downtown core to create and support a retail and recreation destination environment,” says Geraldine Lopez, Director of Economic Development and Housing for the city of Clearwater.
 
According to Lopez, there are currently two residential projects in the works. The Nolen, a $34 million mixed-use building that includes 257 apartments and approximately 10,000-square-feet of retail space, with construction expected to be completed this fall.
 
The other project is the Skyview. Like the Nolen, it is a mixed-use space, with 40 condos and 10,000-square-feet for shops. Construction on Skyview is expected by the end of the year.
 
In addition to the residential properties, downtown Clearwater is also experiencing a development boom in the way of restaurants.
 
“The downtown area is seeing a cluster of ethnic restaurants that is adding diversity to the food scene,” Lopez says. The restaurants include:
 
La Fondita de Leo
 
This establishment opened in the summer of 2015, and serves authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Staples like mashed plantains, shredded chicken and corn fritters are offered, along with more savory options like stuffed chicken breast filled with cream cheese and bacon, the traditional mofongo dish and skirt steak. La Fondita de Leo is open for lunch and dinner.
 
Basil Fusion Bistro
 
With its opening at the end of 2015, Basil Fusion Bistro serves popular Vietnamese dishes. Open for breakfast and lunch only. Items on the menu include pho, spring rolls and smoothies.
 
Fuku Japanese Café
 
With its grand opening just before the New Year, Fuku looks forward to delighting customers with its sushi, ramen and yakisoba. The café is the brainchild of sushi chef Pla Sriwaree and his wife Aja Sriwaree, Fuku is a longtime dream of theirs that has come true. Fuku Japanese Café is open for lunch and dinner.
 
Lopez says that the combination of residential and commercial development is part of the overall vision the city has for the downtown area’s future.

“The city is striving for a vibrant, waterfront downtown destination with a mix of retail, restaurants, residential, office and recreational opportunities that attracts residents and visitors alike.”

USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute begins move to downtown Tampa

Tampa’s downtown revitalization continues to flourish as plans for the new USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute begin to take shape at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive.
 
The decision to place a facility in downtown was out of need and convenience.
 
“The current outdated medical school facilities were designed for a different era of medical teaching when large classroom instruction was the norm instead of today’s emphasis on smaller, active learning classrooms and on team-based, technologically intensive modes of learning,” says Dr. Charles Lockwood, Senior VP of USF Health and Dean of Morsani College of Medicine.  “Moreover, combining the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute into a single facility on the downtown site to be generously donated by Jeff Vinik will provide the university with an important competitive advantage in attracting the best and brightest students, the most talented young faculty and the country’s leading cardiovascular research scientists.”
 
While specifics of the building have yet to be determined, USF has already received an $18 million gift from Carol and Frank Morsani to assist with construction of the complex. Lockwood says it has been that kind of generous financial support from the community that led to the downtown plan.
 
“A series of events aligned, including our need for new facilities, Mr. Vinik’s visionary plan to develop the downtown Tampa waterfront, former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford’s championing of the Heart Institute’s funding, and a new spirit of collaboration and cooperation between USF and Tampa General Hospital,” he says. “After careful review of our situation, we seized upon the unparalleled opportunity to make the downtown location a reality. “
 
Last June, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott supported plans for the new facility by including $17 million in the annual state budget.
 
“The move will be critical in placing both the medical school and future heart institute within five minutes of Tampa General Hospital, USF’s primary teaching hospital where our students do most of their clinical rotations and our clinical faculty admit most of their patients,” Lockwood says. “This downtown location is precisely where millennial medical students and young faculty want to be.”

Golfers tee up at newly renovated courses around Tampa Bay

As the weather cools, and snowbirds and year-long residents alike get ready to hit the tees, Tampa Bay area golf courses are sprucing up their greens for tee time.
 
Rocky Point Golf Course
 
Golfers are now able to enjoy the newly renovated Rocky Point golf course in Tampa, as it reopened last week, after a seven-month renovation to the course.
 
“The major renovation includes all new TiFEagle greens, new tee boxes, Celebration Bermuda grass that surrounds the new greenside and fairway bunkers,” says Bobby Silvest of the Tampa Sports Authority (TSA), which operates the course for the city. “The renovation also includes enhanced features, such as new retaining walls and landscaping.”
 
Silvest says these renovation plans have been years in the making. The $700,000 investment to the course is expected to bring in more traffic.
 
“All of these changes combine to make Rocky Point a course that is challenging and enjoyable, as well as very aesthetically pleasing.”
 
Copperhead at Innisbrook

The PGA golf course in Palm Harbor, best known for hosting the annual Valspar Championship, is scrambling to complete its $4.5-million restoration project before the big event in March 2016.

Renovations to Copperhead golf course include replacing all 18 greens and fairways with new grass, as well as a new drainage system, and improvements to sand traps. Wadsworth Golf Construction Company was brought in to do the mammoth project and is also installing a state-of-the-art sprinkler system that will conserve water usage.

Twin Brooks Golf Course

Located in St. Petersburg, south of downtown, Twin Brooks reopened recently after its $1.5 million-renovation. The course, which has been under city ownership for more than 40 years, had its grand opening celebration in November.

Through its renovations, the design went from an 18-hole course, to a 9-hole, par three course, which offers golfers more yardage and larger putting space. A new drainage system was installed, as well as a 7,000-square-foot platinum Paspalum putting green and a covered driving range.  

“The goal was to create a more open course that is playable and enjoyable for golfers of all levels, with quality putting surfaces, for a great value,” stated Jeff Hollis, St. Petersburg Golf Courses director in a news release from the city. “An improved practice area, along with a covered driving range tee will make for one of the finest practice facilities in Pinellas County.”

Einstein Bros. Bagel, Caribou Coffee opening new concept store in Tampa

Looking for a new place for that morning or afternoon pick-me-up? Try the new concept store created as a result of a partnership between Einstein Bros. Bagels and Caribou Coffee. A location recently opened in Sarasota, and another will be opening in North Tampa on December 9th.

While Einstein Bagel locations have been a part of the greater Tampa Bay area for many years, the new concept store offers the bagels customers have always known, along with the introduction of Caribou Coffee.

“It just made sense to bring these two great items together,” says Candyce Hedlund of Einstein Bagels. “In addition to offering bagels and other food items customers have come to love from Einstein, there will now be more drink options as well. The new stores will offer handcrafted drinks, specialty coffees from Caribou. It's a complete partnership with Einstein Bagels and their food and Caribou Coffee and their drinks.”

According to Hedlund, the idea to bring Einstein Bagels and Caribou Coffee together happened earlier this year, and together the team has opened 15 concept stores around the country since September, with four more opening before the end of the year.

To celebrate the Tampa store opening, the 2,400-square-foot location will be holding a grand opening. The first 50 people in line will receive a coupon booklet, which contains weekly coupons for free coffee, bagels and schmear for a year. Doors open at 5 a.m.

The new Einstein Bagels and Caribou Coffee concept store is situated at 10802 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

Hyde Park Village adds more retailers, new restaurant

Retailers and customers continue to flock to Hyde Park Village as the shopping center continues to grow. Three new retailers and an upscale restaurant will soon be calling Hyde Park Village home.  
 
In 2015, Hyde Park Village has become home to eight new retailers and restaurants. Gabby Soriano, who works on the development team for Hyde Park Village explains the draw for incoming establishments.
 
”Our location is very unique in that it’s not only a beautiful place to shop and dine, but we are also surrounded by a gorgeous neighborhood that is very community oriented,” she says. “We also have fantastic conversion rates. Our guests are quality customers that are more likely to shop than browse.”
 
The latest additions include Suit Supply, a Dutch retailer, which sells upscale suits for men (scheduled to open spring 2016), The Shade Store, a home décor company specializing in unique window treatments (scheduled to open spring 2016), Vineyard Vines, a clothing store selling items for men, women and children (scheduled to open summer 2016).
 
The restaurant that will be opening in 2017, Meat Market, will be an upscale contemporary steakhouse. With locations in Miami Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Palm Beach Florida, this is the first location in the Tampa Bay area.  
 
Each of these additions have other locations throughout the U.S. or even around the globe, however, the location in Hyde Park will be each store's first appearance in the Tampa Bay area.
 
“Hyde Park Village has always offered beautiful and charming surroundings, which our guests appreciate and often prefer compared to the atmosphere you get in the mall,” Soriano says.  "Now, we have several local and first-market retailers and restaurants which will really excite and draw a lot of interest from the community.”
 
Soriano goes on to say that while the village does not keep track of how much traffic goes through Hyde Park Village daily, merchants have absolutely noticed an increase since the redevelopment started earlier this year.

Downtown New Port Richey begins anew on Main Street Landing Project

Current and future residents of downtown New Port Richey have a lot to look forward to with the latest development project, Main Street Landing. The project, which began several years ago was put on hold, but has been resurrected due to the improved economy.

“The project was originally a higher-end mixed-use project to support the urban core downtown but then with the collapse of the economy the developer got stuck and couldn’t move forward with it,” says Mario Iezzoni, Economic Development Director with the city of New Port Richey. “Recently, with the economy getting stronger, I got with the city manager and we decided it was time to move forward again with the plans.”

Those plans include three towers covering a city block. Iezzoni says the project calls for 93 residential units that are approximately 2,200-square-feet. The first tower will be a mixed-use building with commercial space on the first floor and 14 residential units above. Towers two and three will be residential only.

“We are already getting inquiries on the commercial space in tower one, which is really great,” Iezzoni says.

Downtown New Port Richey is experiencing quite a bit of redevelopment, in addition to the Main Street Landing project, renovations to the historic Hacienda Hotel and Sims Park are also underway.

As for the future of the Main Street Landing Project, Iezzoni is very optimistic.

“We are not sure whether the units will be condos or apartments, however, the developer we are working with has worked on very successful projects, we figure the development will completed in two to three years,” he says. “Downtown New Port Richey is a great place to live and we can’t wait for more people to discover it.”

Florida homebuilder plans 11 new communities by mid-2016

A Sarasota-based private home building company is finding great success, currently on track to beat an all-time company home sales record, with plans to build more communities in the Tampa Bay area.

Neal Communities, which is owned by Pat Neal, a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance and former state senator and house member, has overseen the growing company through its success.

With eight communities opening around the Tampa Bay area in 2015, and three slated to open in 2016, the future of the company continues to look bright, with several factors playing into this success.

“In the market, there are historically low interest rates and 40-percent of home buyers are paying cash,” says Leisa Weintraub of Neal Communities. “Plus a low unemployment rate equals a strong Southwest Florida market. We have grown our market coverage by building homes from Hillsborough south to Collier County.”

The new communities built in 2015 include: Woodland Trace in Sarasota, River Wind in Bradenton, South Fork in Riverview, Magnolia Point in Sarasota, Indigo in Lakewood Ranch, MiraBay in Apollo Beach, Waterset in Riverview, and Oaks of Estero in Estero.

Weintraub goes on to say that the company's “emphasis on style and architectural details, which are classical and timeless designed around the feel of being in Florida,” is what she attributes to the business’s success.

In 2016, Villa Amalfi and The Provence will open in Sarasota as well at The Ridge at Crossing Creek in Bradenton.

“Our homes are light and bright and reflect the lifestyles of our home buyers.”

For more information on the communities mentioned or other communities around the state built by Neal Communities, visit their website.

SPC receives funding for Bay Pines STEM Learning Center

With funding from the state in the amount of $2.5 million, St. Petersburg College (SPC) is building a new learning center for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

Last year, SPC received money to fund the new building from the Florida Legislature Public Education Capital Outlay to complete the college's Bay Pines STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Learning Center in the Madiera Beach area. It is close to both the Bay Pines VA Hospital and Madiera Beach Fundamental School.

The $4.7 million building will serve many purposes for the community.

“The center will have SPC classes, professional development activities for Pinellas County school teachers and others, community group activities, marine and environmental independent research being carried out by SPC students, secondary school students, and students from other colleges around the area,” says John Chapin, Dean of natural sciences at SPC. “It will also be the site for summer camps for various groups underserved in the STEM areas, and a site to partner with other colleges/universities in the area on STEM related projects.”

According to Chapin, SPC's Bay Pines STEM Learning Center will be 10,000-square-feet. It will have two multipurpose lab rooms each holding 24 students, three independent research areas and one large multipurpose room that will seat up to 100 people.

“The lab rooms are very flexible and will support both lab-based and classroom-based activities.”

The building is scheduled to undergo construction in December and is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Reed at ENCORE! Tampa is completed, fully occupied

The Reed at ENCORE! Tampa, a new senior building between downtown Tampa and Ybor City, is now complete and fully occupied. 
 
The Reed is part of a larger designed community encompassing 28 acres and expected to cover 12 city blocks. Plans include a variety of housing for all ages, including low income as well as market rate rentals and sales. 
 
Though the near $30-million Reed at ENCORE building already houses more than 150 seniors, there are some final touches to be completed.
 
“There is a design element remaining to be installed, the maestro’s baton, which is a large public art element, which will grace the front entry way of the building,” says Leroy Moore, COO for the Tampa Housing Authority.
 
According to Moore, the Reed building has special significance to the area.
 
“Reed is our second senior building and the third building overall to open at ENCORE,” he says. ‘The building is named after Essie Mae Reed, a local pioneer in women’s rights and public housing, and Tampa’s first black female to qualify to run for city council.”
 
To honor the late-Essie Mae Reed, a bust was revealed at the ribbon cutting, which was attended by U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. During the event, Castor read a proclamation she read on the floor of Congress honoring Ms. Reed several years ago. The mayor shared memories of times he spent with the pioneer. The Reed family shared their emotional comments about how profoundly honored they feel to have such a remembrance of their family member.

Waterline: New resort coming to Anna Maria Island, Bradenton

Waterfront suites, water activities and signature restaurant are just a few luxuries that will be included in a new resort coming to Anna Maria Island just off the Gulf coast by Bradenton in Manatee County.

The Waterline Resort, which will open in fall 2016, is the latest project for the Mainsail Lodging & Development team. The team is also known for their work on the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa.
 
This new project on Anna Maria Island, which is located just minutes from Bradenton, will offer guests both luxury and excitement.
 
“The resort will feature 37 stylish 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom suites with gourmet kitchens, says Joe Collier, President  of Mainsail Lodging & Development. “Waterline’s separate beach club will offer exclusive beach access with kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, lounge chairs, umbrellas, beach toys and a ‘desalination zone’ for guests to cool down and relax.”
 
Collier, a graduate of Florida State University, says the resort will also offer 2,000-square-feet of meeting space, a signature restaurant and bar and a 50-slip marina.
 
“The Waterline marina will be the center of aquatic activity at the resort with boat slips for guests who arrive by water, charter boats for family outings, eco-tours, guided fishing excursions, sailing adventures and daily sunset cruises,” he says.  
 
Collier also notes that Waterline has already formed a partnership with the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
 
“Based on a shared commitment to environmental stewardship, Waterline is looking forward to establishing a unique, strictly educational partnership with the world-renowned Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium,” he says. “The educational partnership is planned to include a variety of eco-experiences and will enhance and enrich the overall destination experience for Waterline guests and locals alike.”
 
The Waterline Resort will be located at 5325 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach on the East shore of Anna Maria Island. For more information, visit the resort’s website.

5 new restaurants pick Westshore area of Tampa to call home

Five new restaurants are about to be calling the Westshore area of Tampa home. Three of the restaurants are going into International Plaza, making for a night out for foodies a cinch if you want to try all three in one trip.
 
YO! Sushi
 
One of the most innovative concepts coming to International Plaza is YO! Sushi. The sushi joint has become popular and well-known for its unique ordering process.
 
“To make ordering fun and easy, dishes are served via the “kaiten” otherwise known as a conveyor belt, with color and price coded plates ranging from $3 to $7 dollars,” says Darren Wightman, VP of Operations for YO! Sushi.
 
In addition to ordering off the “kaiten,” guests can order other dishes using an airline style call button.
 
Wightman, who graduated with a degree in catering and hospitality from William Angliss College, with a certificate in wine studies from the UK Wine and Spirit Education Trust, says the restaurant serves a variety of sushi including sashimi, maki hand rolls, spicy tuna rolls and vegetarian options. Yo! Sushi also provides a variety of wine, beer and sake.
 
This will be the second location in the Tampa Bay area, with the other being located at The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota.
 
“We love the Florida market,” Wightman says.  “Due to our recent Sarasota opening and the positive response, the Tampa market was a natural next step for the brand. It is a vibrant market, with a diversity of cultures.”
 
Yo! Sushi will be having a grand opening celebration when they open October 28th.
 
TAPS
 
Also located at International Plaza is TAPS, an upscale bar nestled in the heart of Bay Street across from Bar Louie and The Blue Martini. TAPS had its grand opening in September.
 
With flat screen televisions located both inside and outside the establishment, this is a great place to go to watch games and drink craft beer. In addition to the wide variety of beer, wine and spirits, the restaurant also has a reputation for great food. Known for their house-baked meatballs and Tuna Crudo, which is served at their other locations throughout Florida, it is a staple for the brasserie. Other menu items include short rib ragu, steak fritz and burgers.
 
Doc B’s
 
The third International Plaza newbie is Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen. Named in honor of the owner’s father, who always said ‘Everything in moderation,’ this restaurant is one of the healthier choices for foodies.
 
Options include kale salad, roasted chicken and salad -- all made from with ingredients from local farmers. There are also more indulgent offerings including burgers, crispy chicken sandwichs and filet-mignon. Remember what Doc B says? Everything in moderation.
 
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen is scheduled to open in November.
 
 Lucky Dill
 
The former Boizao Steakhouse location at 4606 West Boy Scout Boulevard, will soon be transformed into the Lucky Dill Deli. Lucky Dill already runs a deli and bakery in Palm Harbor.  
 
Lucky Dill is a New York-style deli offering soups, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and an array of entrees. Favorites include matzo ball soup, corned beef sandwich and Coney Island Potato Knish. The restaurant is also known for its breakfast menu and bakery, especially when the weekend rolls around.
 
Lucky Dill in Westshore is expected to open by end of 2015.
 
Thai Prime
 
Located in the MetWest retail and office complex across from the International Plaza mall you will soon find Thai Prime. The restaurant is a concept from the owners of Thai Samurai in Trinity. Like the established restaurant in Pasco County, Thai Prime will serve authentic Thai cuisine.
 
With 2,613-square-feet, the restaurant will also feature a full liquor bar and outdoor seating.
 
Thai Prime at MetWest is expected to open in December.

Moving to Tampa: New luxury apartments coming to Westshore

The Westshore area of Tampa, long known as a thriving business district, continues to grow as a residential community with the addition of The Westly, a new luxury apartment complex under construction. The 262-unit apartment complex joins other new developments including Grady Square and the Crescent, also under construction.

The Westly is a multimillion dollar project that the Framework Group is developing, and was formerly known as the 4310 Spruce project. The decision to build a complex on Spruce was a strategic one based on serving the needs of the existing Westshore area.

“We chose to build in Westshore because we wanted to target young professionals, and Westshore has the largest employment base in the Tampa region,” Framework President Phillip Smith says. “We also liked the proximity to retail and restaurants in the area.”  

Apartments range from approximately 600-square-feet for a studio to over 1,600-square-feet for a three-bedroom. Smith says what sets this project apart from other developments is the amenities.

“Apartments on the top floor feature ten-foot-high ceilings, each unit has high-end appliances, the bathrooms feature rain head showers, everything is high-end,” he says.

He goes on to say that the complex will also feature a clubhouse with a sauna and massage rooms, a pool and courtyards, and a gaming room with a golf simulator, multiple televisions, putting green, pool table and casual seating.

Smith, who received his master’s degree from Harvard and bachelor’s degree from Auburn, has several other projects in the works including a 21-story building on Harbour Island and a 220-unit development in downtown Sarasota.

Plans call for the first units at The Westly to be available in June of 2016.

Plans call for 800 new homes in west Hillsborough River neighborhood

More homes are being added to the plans for the West River redevelopment project being designed by the Tampa Housing Authority. Another 800 homes are now envisioned as part of the 1,600 already included in the $500 million redevelopment project.

The West River redevelopment project is part of the city of Tampa’s plans to transform a 194 acres of land along the Hillsborough River into a mixed-income neighborhood. The plan to add 800 new homes was made after re-evaluating the project.
 
After a more complete market study of the urban area affected, "it just made sense to add these additional homes,” says Leroy Moore, COO for the Tampa Housing Authority.  “The opportunity was there, and the market study showed that with the higher number of units being there, the market would support it.”

With the new plan, the 2,400 homes will be mixed-use, but also mixed-income meaning there will be a combination of public housing and market-rate units.

“This is a mixed-income project,” Moore says. “By mixed-income we mean housing that is affordable to persons below 80-percent area medium income being housed in the same building with units that are at market rent as well, so that the diversity of income is all within one building.”

As for when the units will be ready, Moore says it could take time depending on when funding comes through.

“It will be a phase development, which could mean it would be five to 10 years before the units are complete,” he says. “But we could have buildings starting as early as late next year. We are pursuing funding this year to try to get this project underway as soon as possible.”

New outlet mall opens in Wesley Chapel later this month

Tampa Premium Outlets is getting ready to open later this month in Wesley Chapel.

Simon Property Group, which operates 86 outlets around the world, designed and will manage the new Wesley Chapel mall.

“The Tampa outlet is beautiful,” says Les Morris, spokesman for Simon. “It has a Key West feel to it with palm trees and fountains. I think people are really going to enjoy the atmosphere, in addition to the many shops the outlet has to offer.”

With 90 stores opening, Morris offers a list of some of the store names including: Ann Taylor Factory Store, Bass Factory Outlet, Calvin Klein, Columbia Sportswear, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren and Vera Bradley.

The 441,000-square-foot shopping center will also feature a food pavilion with diverse dining options to choose from.

With the new outlet opening, hundreds of jobs have been created as well.

“Many of the jobs have been filled, but between part-time and full-time positions we expect to employ about 800 people,” Morris says. “That number doesn’t include the jobs that were created during the construction phase. This project has and will create a lot of jobs for the Tampa Bay area.”

Tampa Premium Outlets is scheduled to have its grand opening October 29th.  The grand opening will include a weekend of special activities and giveaways, along with a guest appearance by television personality Bethenny Frankel.

The new outlet is located at 2398 Grand Cypress Drive in Wesley Chapel. For a complete list of stores visit the outlet’s website
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