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On the heels of last week’s post about Gillespie Park, we’d like to share an article on the area from SRQ Magazine. Downtown Sarasota—including Main Street, Laurel Park, Gillespie Park, the Rosemary District, and all the surrounding neighborhoods—has been in flux for decades. After it boomed it busted, and just twenty years ago it seemed our deserted downtown core might be down for the count. But a number of determined locals refused to let it die, and downtown Sarasota today is a beautiful (and increasingly bustling) place to live, work, and play for renters and home owners alike.

We at Laurel Park Management understand that change of any sort is never easy, and that all too often changes in neighborhoods (particularly when made by developers) pave the way for gentrification and price out the very people who remained committed to those neighborhoods through the tough times. Change of this sort can line the pockets of a few, but it rarely makes a neighborhood a truly better place.

That said, change is inevitable, everywhere and always, and can be a tremendously positive thing. After all, it wasn’t long ago that our charming Historic Laurel Park neighborhood was less than savory. Gillespie Park and the Rosemary District are vital downtown neighborhoods with their own distinct mix of characteristics and their own distinct futures. Just imagine what they can be—not as imitations of Laurel Park, but as the best and most fully realized versions of themselves!

In the spirit of keeping the conversation alive, here’s an excerpt from the article:

Rosemary and Gillespie

Retirees might move southward, but Sarasota’s real estate development has a northern pathway. As the downtown reaches its capacity (and beyond that capacity, some might say), the desire to develop is finding its newest potential in the neighborhoods north of Fruitville Road—the Rosemary District and Gillespie Park.

How will These Two Neighborhoods Reach Their Potential?
The development in the Rosemary District and Gillespie Park doesn’t mirror its neighbors to the south. For one, it’s calmer. The market has stagnated, and condo pre-sale requirements that are required to get new projects off the ground are harder to meet. “It’s always a challenge,” says Atlanta-based developer Wayne Morehead of meeting the pre-sales for his Rosemary District condominium project, CityPointe. “I’m hopeful that by coming out with a well-conceived development that’s priced correctly, we can receive a good reception. We don’t want this to be luxury.”

But what the areas might lack in market conditions, they are attempting to make up in developer cohesiveness and unique planning. Both neighborhoods have just a few major landowners who control much of the property in the area—Morehead owns 6.5 acres in Rosemary, Devin Rutkowski owns two block-long parcels and two active corners in Gillespie—and these developers have expressed a desire to work with other landowners in their separate neighborhoods while shaping the future of the area. “We’re not in competition,” says Rutkowski of other Gillespie Park developers. “We complement each other. Obviously, having a vision for the neighborhood is important.”

To foster that vision, these areas also have another opportunity the more-developed areas in Sarasota don’t: potential. A drive through Gillespie Park or Rosemary today reveals rundown homes and vacant lots. But through the rose-colored glasses of the New Urbanism movement, many developers are saying they can create livable, walkable communities—in both neighborhoods. But the majority also say that in order to do this they will need the city to increase densities and make zoning exceptions for their ultimate plans to come to fruition. Here’s a peek at some of those plans.

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