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Downtown Sarasota building sells for $24 million, buyer plans redevelopment

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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The Zenith Building in downtown Sarasota has been sold to a central Florida development company for $24 million, according to a commercial broker that negotiated the sale.

WMG Development, based out of Winter Park, purchased the about 1.1 acre property that includes a 112,000-square-foot, 12-story office building that was built in 1972. The property also includes a large unattached parking garage that also has about 15,000 square feet of additional office space.

Steve Horn and Jag Grewal, both partners with Sarasota-based Ian Black Real Estate, and Jeremy Dee with California-based Kennedy Wilson, negotiated the sale.

Horn said he had been working on the possible redevelopment of the property for about 12 years before the "stars aligned." He said Zenith Insurance has owned the building since 1995 and is the only tenant in the aging office tower.

When the Zenith Building was built in 1972 at 1390 Main Street, Horn said it would have been one of the tallest in Sarasota.

Now, it's possible that the new owners will knock it down to build something brand new to breath life into the Five Points area of Sarasota.

Horn declined to share Zenith Insurance's long term plans, but noted the company would be making an announcement in the near future. Horn said there was a short-term plan for the company to stay in the building, but how long was not disclosed.

Design plans for large commercial redevelopment projects can take years from initial concept to final approval.

The buyer indicated in a statement they have a "long-term commitment" to the Sarasota community and will "identify the right development mix and potential partners for the site."

“This project size and location on the historic Five Points Roundabout is immensely important to the Downtown Sarasota community and to WMG Development as we live out our mission and vision of making a positive and lasting impact on the communities we touch throughout the country.” said WMG CEO Curtis Frost.

Horn said the project has the potential to be a game changer for downtown. The property is zoned Downtown Bayfront, which would allow for a property to be develop 18-stories on the site.

"Apart from the Quay, I believe this is the most important property in downtown Sarasota to be redeveloped."

Horn said it's not been decided if the existing buildings on the property will be demolished or incorporated into redevelopment plans.

"I think nothing is off the table," he said.

The buyer plans to hold the property for the time being, with an eye toward future development, Migone said.

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