Here's one project that gets the European feel right.
By Robert Plunket
Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie describe his love of Citrus Square on TV.
At a time of unrelieved gloom in the real estate market, it’s nice to finally come across a good solid success story, and Citrus Square is all that and more. It breaks a lot of rules, but the result feels so right for downtown Sarasota that you sort of shake your head and say, “Yes, yes. This is exactly what they should be building.”
Here’s the gimmick—it’s a three-story residential/retail building designed to look like a block in a town in the South of France. This kind of thing has certainly been tried before, but at Citrus Square they get it right. First, the architecture is beautiful. A great deal of time went into the scale and proportion of the façade, and it’s really paid off. Usually they do an “updated” or “Floridized” version of European architecture (hence the watered-down Spanish Med we’re all sick of), but here they go for authenticity, and the results are very impressive. The windows, the little balconies, the wrought-iron railings, the big solid wood door on the ground level—everything looks right.
So right that you think the inside couldn’t be anywhere near as nice. But guess what—it’s even nicer. The ceilings are over 10 feet, and often trayed or coffered or curved; the interior doors are solid and paneled; and most of the units have great French doors opening onto little European balconies perfect for putting potted geraniums on. It goes without saying there are granite counters and stainless appliances. I was a little worried about noise, since the units face Orange Avenue, but they have been very well sound-proofed and it’s not a problem.