The Bath & Racquet Fitness Club has sold out again. Could this be the comeback?
Built in 1969, the clubhouse at 2170 Robinhood St., tucked away behind Trader Joe’s on Tamiami Trail, has been a popular social center for families for generations. They played tennis and racquetball, took lessons, swam outdoors, and worked out at the fitness center. Although some still slip on the outside courts behind the club to steal tennis, it has remained dormant as two owners over the past two years had ambitions to turn it into a residential-commercial project.
The latest owner is Sarasota Springs LLC, which closed the sale for $15,350,000 on January 7. There were around 11 other offers, according to Kevin Robbins who, along with Mitch Helmuth, both of Harry E. Robbins Associates Inc. of Sarasota, represented Mark Lucas, the developer who had bought the club just seven months earlier for 5.5 million to former developer Scott Olson. (Olson dropped out in February 2020 when the Sarasota City Commission rejected his development proposal and ended up closing the club due to Covid-19.)
Sarasota Springs LLC will inherit the time-consuming rezoning process that Lucas and his development team navigated, which now allows for a mixed-use residential and commercial project. After some opposition from nearby residents and several iterations, the final plan for the new Sarasota Bath & Racquet Fitness Club was approved by city commissioners in November 2021.
The 13-acre site includes a 40,000 square foot fitness center, junior Olympic pool, 29 tennis courts, restaurant and ample parking. Lucas adjusted the site layout to create a better transition between multi-family neighborhoods to the north, single-family homes to the south, and commercial activity on US 41 to the west.
Architect Michael Halflants of Halflants + Pichette led the design of the mixed-use community. His approved plan included 180 market-priced residential units, 27 affordable residential units, 45,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, a one-acre park with a playground, dog park and trail. walking/jogging. (To learn more about this plan, as well as photos, click here.)
In July last year, city commissioners approved the addition of 70 more residential units, allowing a total of 277 units, boosting the value of the project amid a scorching residential real estate market, boosted by a strong demand and low inventory.
Although the new owners may make some marginal changes, part of the terms of purchase include maintaining the items listed above in addition to dedicating 10,000 square feet of fitness space available to anyone who purchases a membership. .
After what it took to finalize a plan, Lucas sought out a buyer who intended to keep the tennis and fitness center as part of the redevelopment concept. “Other development companies just wanted to tear it down,” says Robbins. One of the reasons that made Lucas sell was the requirement to build the project all at once. The cost to do so is around $200 million. The previous plan which was rejected by the city proposed to build it in phases, one building at a time.
The purchase represents a joint venture between Federal Finance Group, led by Founder and CEO Tan Bahia, and Silver Sky Global Capital, led by Founder and Chairman Fabio Di Prima. Both companies invest in residential and commercial property development projects across Europe and North America and have offices in New York and London, UK.
Di Prima says his teams are already working to complete the design and permits and expect to “hit the ground by the end of 2022”.
According to Robbins and Helmuth, Lucas plans to work on other infill projects in Sarasota similar to the Bath & Racquet.