David Weekly Homes Closes on School Ave. Site
JACOB OGLES, JACOB.OGLES@SRQME.COM
Land near Payne Park that long served as the site of controversy surrounding the appropriate density of development could finally see a project break ground. A site plan and development agreement for David Weekly Homes to develop 135 residential units on a site on School Avenue won approval from Sarasota City Commissioners to move ahead.
Michael Saunders & Company Commercial announced last Thursday that the homebuilder had closed on a purchase of the site, days after the city commission voted unanimously in favor of the project. “People will be very pleased to see this project finally come to fruition,” said Lee DeLieto, Sr., MSC broker/associate.
Martin Frame, land acquisition manager in the Tampa and Sarasota markets for David Weekly Homes, told Sarasota city commissioners at a hearing in May that the project, titled Payne Park Village, will include a mix of townhouses, cottages and villas. Four-story units will overlook Payne Park, with single-family cottages and villas inside the project.
The site has been grounds for historic struggles between neighbors and developers about the proposed densities on the site, and neighbors in May said this site plan represents the end of a 10-year endeavor to find a plan that can be embraced by neighbors and property owners.
David Weekly Homes purchased a little more than eight acres out of a nine-acre site owned by developer Ron Burks, who initially planned a much more dense development that incited political upheaval. Burks then worked with neighbors on a plan with less intensity, but that project ultimately never moved forward. Less than an acre of the original property remains in Burks' hands and still can be used for commercial development.
DeLieto says the major difference between this project and past development proposals is that the tallest buildings on site will only be four stories. “The construction costs for a townhouse, especially in a subdivision, are substantially less than building tower buildings,” he says. He credited Frame and consultant Joel Freedman with planning a project embraced by neighbors.
City commissioners did express a strong concern about the price of homes, but officials from David Weekly Homes told them that every effort would be made to keep the price of the units toward the center of the project closer to $300,000, while many homes in that part of the city sell for $400,000 and up. Freedman said at the May hearing that the company would like to break ground by the end of this year if possible.