It’s been one of the most ill-kept secrets in Sarasota, but the HuB — the downtown-based, self-described “incubator for creative minds” — is moving to new digs at 1680 Fruitville Road.
The group said Monday it expects work on the former Century Bank building to be completed by October. The HuB’s familiar green logo already is atop the building, which remains surrounded by scaffolding.
The bank building was sold about a year ago for $2.8 million, or $68 per square foot, by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to Biter Idea Vault LLC, a Sarasota company managed by Jesse M. Biter, according to government records. Biter is a millionaire who sold a company that he had created to AutoTrader.com. He also has bought retail spaces on the ground floor of Sarasota’s Palm Avenue garage.
HuB founder Rich Swier Jr. said his organization has purposefully tried to keep things discreet.
“Until today, we have made it a goal to not reveal what goes on inside the HuB,” Swier said. “In fact, very few people know exactly what happens behind those walls, but with our expansion we want to open the black box a little.”
The group said “the addition of several new entrepreneurs and projects have both contributed to the fast growth of the organization.”
Many of its projects “are still in stealth mode and can not be revealed.” But “for the first time,” the HuB would reveal some:
“Project BowWowWhat?” launched by HuB member David Daly is an artificial intelligence software product that “translates audible noises from canines into words.” “Our vision is to break the silence between man and dog. Our product will do for canines what Twitter did for Egypt,” Daly said in a statement.
Saratopia, another project that has been more prominent in the Tampa Bay area, is a Web video series taking a satirical view of Sarasota that was produced by new resident and entrepreneur Lucas Colavecchio.
“When we ripped off ‘Portlandia,’ we had no idea how difficult it would be to write the scripts, so we decided to take old ‘Three’s Company’ and ‘Golden Girl’s’ scripts, change a few words and wing it,” Colavecchio said, referring to a similar take on Portland, Ore.
The inside of the organization’s new home is still being designed, Swier said.
“I envision the HuB inside to have no straight lines or edges,” he said. “Every floor and wall will be curved. We don’t want anything to prohibit the creative energy from flowing throughout the building.”
He said the group is considering a “shark tank” on the first floor but “we’re still waiting on the city to approve the permit.”
Other additions being considered “include a trampoline room, 500-square-foot ball pit and a Slip ‘N Slide connecting the second and third floor.”
Formed in summer 2009, the loosely affiliated creative group has been located in a building at 1413 Boulevard of the Arts.
Florida Shores Bank-Southwest is moving an office into the Fruitville building. It is leasing 5,740 square feet on the first floor, with rights to another 2,500 square feet.
It also will operate the three-lane drive-through facility across Goodrich Avenue.