With the new Farmer's Market and an influx of restaurants and boutiques, South of Main Street, or SoMa, has become downtown's coolest new place to shop, dine or design. Now you can live there, too, and not only in the tiny cottages of Laurel Park or along pricey Palm Ave. The apartments in Dr. Harvey Kaltsas' Kanaya, a 35-unit "healthy" condominium that will features formaldehdye-free insulation and filtration to prevent mold and fungus, start at $600,000-a healthy alternative to the million-dollar-plus condos along Main. The more contemporary Rivo at Ringling will have six floors priced from $385,000 to under $600,000 for 1,483 to 1,883 square feet of living space. At press time, several remained, but they're likely to go quickly once construction starts this fall.
A biker bar that serves Cristal? Downtown's new Khrome has created a niche of its own-bar, club, and an upscale theme restaurant, too. The food, valet parking, plasma-screen TVs and hip DJ set it apart from the Harley Davidson Café in Vegas or the Hob Nob down the street. Developed by American Legend Cycle Sale's owner Ray Williams, Khrome comes complete with a red carpet that leads you to inside/outside bars-note the buxom biker-chick-styled bartender serving customers seated on leather "chopper seats"-and vintage bikes including a Harley Davidson 74 Shovelhead Chopper. 1120 N. Washington Blvd., 366-5545.
In Da Club
The legendary Lido Beach Casino was the Sarasota club of choice in the '40s and '50s, but after it was demolished in 1969, mostly nondescript motels set the tone for the area. Now the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is trying to restore Lido's former glory. Since it entered Sarasota in 2002, the Ritz has been the place to have an event; but the fitness facilities, tennis courts and spa have been off limits to non-guests. All this is about to change with the building of the new Beach Club at Lido Shores, with sports and golf memberships that will give locals access to spa, fitness and beach club facilities as well as the new golf club with a Tom Fazio-designed, 18-hole course, which will start taking shape between University Parkway and State Road in the fall. Entrance fees for the sport membership, which will include the Beach Club, will be in the $10,000-plus range. It will cost about $500-plus per month to sip cocktails and watch sunsets with the Ritz condo owners, who need to come up with seven figures to watch the sunrise as well.
Mediterranean Revival architecture continues to proliferate, but a new group hopes to add something fresher to the Sarasota landscape. The Sarasota Emerging Architects, or SEA for short, will serve as a forum for new work, presenting quarterly showings of the latest work of student architects or newly minted architects. The group is the brainchild of Hugo Mijares, associate director of the AIA GulfCoast Chapter, which brought us the 2003 "No Brakes" exhibition of new designs of Sarasota's hot young architects. Group members will be featured in the AIA's 10 x 10 series, in which local artists and designers show slides of their work and discuss the creative process, on Oct. 15 at Selby Gardens Activity Center. For more information contact the AIA at 362-9786 or visit www.aiafla-gulfcoast.org.
The New South
It's hard to keep up with South Beach's cool hotels and hotspots, but leave it to New York Hotel impresario Andre Balazs. His newest re-creation, The Raleigh, has the beautiful crowds-and boorish service-Miami was made for. The F. Murray Dixon-designed Deco landmark was originally made famous by its scalloped pool with cascading waterfall, where Esther Williams was often filmed; it was reborn in the early '90s as one of South Beach's first chic boutique resorts. The pool remains, and even though today's surrounding area of pool divans make the place feel like Sin City, the Raleigh remains quietly chic. The rooms have been completely redone to reflect luxury without losing the retro chic of its original renovation. The intimate lobby lounge avoids the cavernous feel of the Shore Club or the scene at the Delano, but both are steps away if you need a fix of more frenetic South Beach action. 1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; (305) 534-6300; www.raleighhotel.com.