Today, when you look at downtown Sarasota, you'll see a sprinkling of new, upscale and fancy condominium developments, and you wouldn't probably remember how the area looked just 5 or 6 years ago, because a lot has already changed since then.
It's hard to look at the new condominium towers that are dominating the city's downtown landscape without ever wondering. Even during the heyday of the city's real estate frenzy, when people were doubling their money and these high-rise units were being sold in as fast as 90 minutes, many people are continuing to ask, "Who is going to live there?"
Are The New developments Revitalizing The Downtown Area?
According to housing analysts, there seems to be a slight downturn in the Sarasota property market, albeit only a temporary one. However, it's one that will be sure to bring real challenges.
Housing and property market observers note that revitalizing a downtown is very difficult,and they note that many cities, like St. Louis, Missouri, have even struggled to get people to come to the downtown area. However for Sarasota, the long-term outlook is pretty positive,as foreign buyers are seeing the city, and the state of Florida as a whole, as having a bargain sale because the dollar is currently devalued.
The housing industry observers note that the nature of seasonal residents is changing also. Instead of snowbirds flying here during the winter season and staying for four months, they tend to fly back and forth between homes.The experts also note that the inability of baby boomers to retire, as these segments split their time between two houses, causes a much different pattern.
Retiring Baby Boomers Are Key To The Downtown Condo Market's Fortunes
One of the positive factors which may spell wonders for the downtown area's condo markets, is the influx of retiring baby boomers who are attracted to urban living, as they like the new urbanism and the new village idea. However, positive forecasts aside, just how long the real estate market will remain "soft" and how long it will take for Sarasota to absorb the inventory downtown is anybody's guess.
It's estimated that around 500 condos are now for sale, and some brokers are saying that their inboxes and inquiry sheets are getting filled with notes from real estate agents offering 30-percent price cuts on some residential properties.
Developers Are Hoping Big-Name Businesses Would Continue To Flock Downtown
Despite the fears of a major slump in future condo sales in the downtown area, residential developers and city leaders are predicting that the new buildings would provide enough shoppers to bring in big-name businesses like Brooks Brothers, PF Chang’s and Morton’s Steak House, and should transform downtown's Main Street into a bustling, thriving and eclectic upscale retail district where people live, shop and work, hasn’t fully happened yet. Despite about 2,000 new condominium units planned since 2004, only a few hundred have been completed.
About a dozen storefronts sit vacant on Main Street, the lights are mainly out at Plaza at Five Points, and PF Chang’s has turned into a no-show. In the meantime, twice as many downtown condos are on the market now as last year, and several planned new developments have either been temporarily stalled or outright canceled.
Knowing who's buying into these condo developments, and for how long is a critical aspect in the downtown area's economic development puzzle. Successful retail and business establishments require rooftops--rooftops with people in them, more often than not.
However, how many of those early buyers never intended to live in those handsome new condo units, or see them as a quick flip instead. Add to this the many other pressing concerns like the market-slumping effects of soaring tax rates, rising insurance premiums and the psychological toll of hurricane threats.