Not too long ago – and not too far in the past – the mere thought of Sarasota County selling its hulking administrative building in downtown Sarasota would have sparked an outcry among city officials, business owners and others fretting about a major public employer reducing its footprint in the heart of SRQ.
So we should consider it a measure of how well downtown Sarasota is thriving right now that when the county recently announced it would sell the administrative building to Benderson Development, the news barely raised much of a ripple – much less hand-wringing about the potential negative ripple effects of Sarasota County abandoning its decades-old home.
There have been no cries that downtown Sarasota will lose face and prestige along with the departing county government apparatus, which – after leasing space in the existing building from Benderson for the next few years – is expected to move into a new administrative center on Cattlemen Road sometime in 2025.
There have been no cries that downtown businesses will face a dramatic loss of afternoon foot traffic because huge numbers of county employees will leave the longtime administrative building – one that is, frankly, showing every bit of its aged status.
And that’s great news for downtown Sarasota and Sarasota County alike.
The sale of the county administrative building isn’t merely a welcome opportunity for a new owner to breathe energy and vibrancy into a tired site in downtown Sarasota – it’s also a welcome sign that there are already ample amounts of energy and vibrancy in downtown Sarasota these days.