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Tallest luxury tower proposal is back

Written by on Saturday, April 6, 2024

The developer dropped its height a bit, adds second-floor retail.

By Ramon Lopez

Original Air Date: Apr. 5, 2024

Host: City planners rejected it in the first round, but now the developer is back, with a slightly shorter proposal of what would still be the tallest tower in downtown Sarasota yet. Ramon Lopez reports.

Ramon Lopez: The City of Sarasota’s Development Review Committee this past Wednesday officially received the revamped but still controversial construction submittal for what had been known as the Obsidian Residences.

Obsidian had been slated to be downtown Sarasota’s tallest condo building, at 352 feet high. That’s 87 feet taller than the Epoch and more than 100 feet higher than the Jewel. The extreme height would have been achieved by adding interstitial space.

The project still calls for 14 luxury condominiums in an 18-story building, now with retail and commercial space on the ground and second floor. The 14 residences would be priced at more than $4 million. Each would have from three to five bedrooms and bathrooms, plus space for an office, fitness center, wine cellar, and the rest needed by wealthy
owners. Each residence would be 4,500 square feet to more than 6,000 square feet. There would be an expansive deck on the roof of the building with a pool and spa. Opponents say the project would have been better named “Obsceneian”.

The project by Palm Properties, LLC is headed by Matt Kihnke.

At 1260 North Palm Avenue, the existing building would be razed. The replacement would be built on a quarter-acre between the Art Ovation Hotel and adjacent Palm Avenue parking garage to the east, and the Bay Plaza condos to the west.

But planning for the luxury condo tower was put on hold last fall, after requested adjustments to zoning code were denied by the city’s Director of Development Services, Lucia Panica. Then, in early January, the Planning Board also nixed the proposal.

Rather than appeal those decisions to the city commission, developer Kihnke addressed the main objections regarding retail frontage and excessive building height. In February, he submitted a new proposal to the city, trimming 15 feet
of building height. Ground-floor retail was increased from 640 square feet to over 4,000 square feet. Second floor retail jumped to over 2,000 square feet. The new name for the project is 1260 North Palm Residences.

Opponents say the luxury condos are not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and vow to continue their fight to block the construction.

The matter will go back before Lucia Panica, and the Planning Board. And it could ultimately reach the Sarasota City Commissioners for a contentious vote.

This is Ramon Lopez for WSLR News.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.