Sarasota Herald Tribune
By Roger Drouin
Published Friday, Feb. 22, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.

SARASOTA — Renderings dropped off at City Hall this week offer the first glimpse of a hotel, condo and parking garage planned for city-owned land downtown.
The city’s partnership with a private development team would bring a 140-room hotel, 150 condos and shops to Palm Avenue and Cocoanut Avenue — one of the most visible corners downtown. In exchange for the land, the city gets 400 public parking spaces.
“We hope this concept is one of a lot of activity and really a vibrant place,” said Matt Leiter, managing partner of the Leiter Group.
The Leiter Group, teaming with Chicago-based John Buck Co., hopes to finish construction of the hotel by July 2009. The hotel is one of the new branches under Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide aLoft brand.
The City Commission will have to give final approval before the team can begin the first phase of construction — which includes the hotel, retail and the parking garage — on the city-owned land.
The 150-unit condo tower will likely not be built for several years — a delay the developer attributes to the current real estate market.
On Monday, the John Buck/Leiter team is scheduled to present updated plans to the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, which makes a recommendation to the City Commission.
The City Commission is slated to cast a final vote on the project March 3.