The HuB’s founder has a new housing project aimed at those who can’t currently afford to live downtown.
Entrepreneur Jesse Biter is continuing his quest to add more attainable housing targeted at young professionals in downtown Sarasota. Now, he’s pursuing a plan to add 90 apartments next to his HuB business incubator.
Brian Jones, president of Jones Development Co., is teaming with Biter Enterprises on the project. At Tuesday’s Downtown Improvement District board meeting, Jones and Biter Project Manager Allison Hester presented an overview of the planned development, which would also expand the size of the HuB itself.
The project, called the HuB Lofts, would produce a seven-story building on what is currently a parking lot, located along Second Street near Goodrich Avenue. The 90 residential units would be targeted toward those who work at the business incubator as well as the general public interested in living downtown.
Those one-and two-bedroom units would average about 1,000 square feet and rent for approximately $1,600 per month — market rate housing, but a step down from the average price per square foot downtown. The ground floor would be used as HuB office space. Jones said the existing HuB offices are 100% occupied with a waiting list, and the additional 5,500 square feet of office space and other amenities would help the for-profit incubator grow.
“I look at it like an overall campus we’re creating,” Jones said. “It’s not just an office, just apartments and they’re separate. The residential portion will be able to use office amenities, and the office will be able to use residential amenities.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, the DID board offered a vote of support for the project. In addition to welcoming a project that would increase the year-round residential population, the board was also encouraged that the project would fall within the existing boundaries of the taxing district, which DID Operations Manager John Moran said was the result of a mistake he made when originally drawing the boundaries.
“Including the parking lot next to the HuB — which is where this property is — is the best accident I’ve ever done,” Moran joked.
Jones said that endorsement would help the developers secure funding for the project, and he said they’re working to begin construction by June 2016.