Year in Review 2014: Hilton demolished; Aria, Park Residences, Infinity rise

In 2014, several development projects began with the groundbreaking of Longboat Key’s Infinity and Aria, and Park Residences on Lido Key. Also, the Longboat Key Hilton renovation project began, and Alan Moore announced his plans for renovation of Moore’s Restaurant.

Developers began construction this year on Aria, a 16-unit luxury condo on the southern end of Longboat Key. The new condominium units are said to have a retail value of $62 million. Thirteen of the units are already under contract according to an agent for Michael Saunders and Company who is now director of sales and marketing for the project.

The Aria site is a five-acre parcel at 2251 Gulf of Mexico Drive, and sold for $18 million in 2006 to a developer that planned to build town houses.

Developer Jay Tallman of Ascentia Development Group had been looking at the property for years and was approached by BBC about developing it. Tallman developed such luxury communities as Orchid Beach Club, Beau Ciel and The Founders Club.

The Aria property is known as Villa am Meer, and it’s occupied by a 1935 estate home designed by John Phillips, the architect of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The developers have spent nearly $1 million to restore the villa as the residents’ club, containing a gathering room, caterer’s kitchen, private wine cellar, guest suite and outdoor terrace with beachside fire pit, plus a caretaker’s apartment. The original stone entry gate was also restored.

Another development project began in December of this year when Crossgate Partners LLC, a real estate investment firm in Suwanee, Georgia, started developing Infinity, which is located on a vacant 2.5-acre tract at 4765 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Units in the five-story Infinity building are priced from $2.9 million to $4.95 million, and range from 3,638 square feet to a 6,370-square-foot penthouse. A clubhouse, fitness center and beachfront pool and spa also are planned.

The project was designed in the coastal contemporary style by architect Mark Sultana of DSDG, Inc. of Sarasota and features 11 residences sized from 3,380 square feet to 6,370 square feet with covered balconies on both the gulf and bay sides. The development includes the main residence building overlooking the beach, a beachfront community pool, clubhouse with fitness center, tennis court and secured entryway. Prices for residences at Infinity Longboat Key start at $2,975,000.

The groundbreaking of Park Residences of Lido Key also started in the Fall of 2014 where 18 units will be completed within a year on the last developable vacant parcel on Lido Key. Partners Patrick DiPinto and David Hargreaves, of Seaward Development, teamed up to examine the possibilities of the building site. They resolved to build 18 units, each about 2,500 square feet, with three bedrooms.

DiPinto said that three bedroom condominiums are the sweet spot in the luxury market and will allow owners to have both an office as well as a room for guests, children or grandchildren.

To date about half of the units have been sold, and Gilbane Building Company, which is providing construction management, said that the project will be ready to occupy by mid-December 2015. Park Residences is located at 129 Taft Drive on Lido Key.

The Hilton renovation project on Longboat Key also began in the summer of 2014, and plans for the renovation include redeveloping the existing Hilton buildings and the 102 rooms that currently are on the site, while adding units in a new tower on the property. The existing tower will be gutted and remodeled, the pool area will be completely redone, and everything to the south of the existing tower will change. The property will get a new lobby building, a new restaurant/meeting space building and the new hotel tower, where all 85 rooms will have views of the Gulf.

Lastly, in December of 2014, Alan Moore announced he will be renovating his restaurant Moore’s. Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant plans to partner with the team behind Caragiulo’s Restaurant to undertake a complete renovation of the 48 year-old landmark dining destination as well as a freshening of the menu.

Moore invited Village residents to sit in the restaurant as he explained his plans and asked for both feedback and support. Moore said he did not want his neighbors, who he also refers to as his most loyal customers, to find out through town hall or in the press and not get the information first-hand where they would have an opportunity to react.

“The receptiveness was better than I ever imagined,” said Alan Moore, who was joined at the meeting by his mother, Mary Moore, and his brother, Paul Moore, who all work at the family-owned establishment that was founded by his father and uncle in 1967.

Moore said the most consistent response from his neighbors where they were thankful that the Moore family came to them first with their plans.

Moore said he was approached by Mark Caragiulo and Tom Leonard to talk about the possibility of joining forces. The team of Caragiulo and Leonard have been involved in bringing several successful Sarasota restaurants to fruition including The Shore on St. Armands Circle, Owen’s Fish Camp, and Nancy’s Barbeque.

Mark is brother to newly-elected Sarasota County Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, and they are the original founding family of Caragiulo’s Restaurant in downtown Sarasota.

Moore says the strategic partnership brings not only the financial resources to undertake a renovation, but also would introduce some of the kitchen creations that have helped the Caragiulo-Leonard restaurants find success.

Moore says the renovations are necessary to bring the restaurant into the 21st Century since the last overhaul was completed in 1991. Moore said the plan is to modernize the interior and bring up to code the electrical and plumbing and open the interior space up for increased visibility of the panoramic view that looks out at Jewfish Key and toward the Intercoastal Waterway.


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