Survey says: No hotel for Whitney Beach Plaza on Longboat Key in Sarasota, FL
Whitney Beach Plaza owner Ryan Snyder knows the plaza can’t sustain itself on the leases it has now. An investigation into a 100-room boutique hotel doesn’t offer hope for the site.
Whitney Beach Plaza owner Ryan Snyder spent more than $10,000 and a good portion of the summer investigating whether a 100-room boutique hotel would work on the north end of the Key.
“It’s simply not viable,” he said.
Snyder, whose Lakewood Ranch law practice consists 99% of work for the banking and real estate industries, said he reached out to approximately 40 hotel developers to provide input on the viability of a hotel.
“Some of my contacts are heavy-hitters in the hotel industry with flag hotels like Hyatt and Marriott,” said Snyder, who declined to divulge the names of the consultants who offered him hotel advice for the site. “They all said it won’t work.”
The main reason “is all about location, location, location,” Snyder said.
“No one’s interested because there is no sand in the backyard,” he said. “It doesn’t even matter the beach is across the street.”
By comparison, various developers and parties are fighting over 18 acres of prime beachfront real estate with dilapidated structures at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
“I spent millions upgrading the plaza, and the Colony property with broken down buildings is still worth six to seven times more than Whitney Beach,” Snyder said. “That tells you how much demand there is for beachfront.”
The other reason a hotel won’t work, Snyder said, is the 60% to 70% annual occupancy rates the study estimated for a hotel.
“I’ve never dived into the hotel development business,” he said, “and I won’t do it with those recommendations and these numbers.”
Snyder said his only other option in the immediate future is to fill up the plaza with tenants before season.
He says he may have a grocery store-type tenant he can’t disclose for the large vacant anchor space who’s intrigued by his offer of free rent for three years. The tenant, Snyder says, already has six locations, in the Sarasota area.
“My main focus now is trying to get the stinking plaza leased,” he said. “I told Realtors to do whatever you have to do to get tenants in the plaza.”