Herald Tribune
Published Friday, May 23, 2008

SARASOTA — The high-end condominium slide that has stalled projects throughout the state now appears to be biting Southwest Florida’s most prominent project.
The owner of Sarasota Bayside said this week it will be at least 2012 before the first of four towers is completed at the $1 billion development.

Under its revised timetable, Irish American Management Services Ltd.’s first 18-story building at Bayside would not be finished until seven years after its originally scheduled date of completion.

Moreover, when tower one is eventually ready for people to move in, Irish American might have to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars more that it had planned for each condo. That extra cost could stem from large carrying costs for land and a redesign that may shave hundreds of residential units off the 700 that were approved in February 2007.

At the same time, Bayside could be facing stiff competition from new projects.
The Proscenium, a nearly $1 billion project planned for seven acres across U.S. 41 from Bayside, is slated to contain a 225-room Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, more than 200 luxury condos, 450,000 square feet of upscale office and retail space, and an 800-seat performing arts hall. If approved by the city later this year, it could open in 2011.

Last month, Longboat Key Club owner Loeb Partners Realty of New York unveiled plans to invest $500 million in its resort. Improvements there, beginning in 2009 and running through 2014, would include a new 222-room hotel; 261 new condominiums and nearly 32,000 square feet of meeting space; and a dramatically refurbished golf course.

Even without added competition, delays already have been costly to Bayside.
Patrick Kelly, Irish American’s principal partner, said in a telephone interview this week that the region’s real estate malaise has wiped out most of the millions of dollars of equity that the Dublin-based investment team injected into Bayside.

In all, Kelly and partners spent more than $100 million buying 15 waterfront acres along U.S. 41 that was home to the former Sarasota Quay, the El Vernona condos and the Belle Haven hotel.
“We plan to begin as soon as is practical,” Kelly said. “That’s our aim. But sales will have to precede any building.”

Besides lost equity, the delay at Bayside is rippling throughout the project’s development team.
HKR Architects Inc., the lead designer on Bayside, has shuttered its local office. The Dublin-based company had planned to use Bayside, and Sarasota, as a headquarters from which to build a U.S. design practice.

Instead, HKR now intends to design the 2.5 million-square-foot, mixed-use development from London, in conjunction with The ADP Group, a Sarasota architectural and land planning firm.
Before opening the Sarasota office in early 2007, HKR had done much of Bayside’s design work from London.