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Rosemary District

In the last several years, one of Sarasota’s most historic neighborhoods has experienced a burgeoning revival. The Rosemary District is a trendy area featuring artisan cafés and sophisticated bistros that provide enhanced American food in elegant settings, as well as laid-back pubs with live music. Local folk and bluegrass events, as well as art exhibitions and talks, are held at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. Fruitville Road is lined with antique stores selling anything from midcentury furniture to vintage apparel. The Rosemary District, formerly known as Overtown, was included in the Town of Sarasota’s original plan in 1885. African Americans began settling here, just north of downtown Sarasota, in the 1890s, under the moniker “Black Bottom,” which was changed to Overtown in the mid-1920s. The Florida real estate boom of the 1920s encouraged citizens to invest in and buy land. As a result, there was a flurry of communal action. A movie theater, a billiards hall, a barbershop, a department store, an ice cream parlor, an auto dealership, a filling station, a lunch counter, a grocery store, a print shop, and a furniture store were all located there. Friends gathered at the Savoy while listening to the latest hot music. The Rosemary District was formed in 1994 to celebrate the historic Rosemary Cemetery, which was founded in 1886 near Eight Street and Central Avenue. Rosemary Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Rosemary District is limited to the north and south by Fruitville Road and 10th Street, and the east and west by Orange Avenue and Route 41, with Central Avenue as its spine. As demand for walk-to-downtown property develops, spurts of renovation that began in the 1990s have morphed into a regular flow. Originally a black area, it is currently attracting entrepreneurs, architects, a few high-end merchants, and creative young people. And a recent construction boom has resulted in the addition of hundreds of condominiums and flats, many of which are quite good. True, the Salvation Army and its homeless clientele are only down the street. Although the area is a little rough around the edges, it is well on its way to a bright future. Outside the new flat, you’ll notice a vibe that’s unlike anything else in town. Green space isn’t a focus; there’s a lovely ancient cemetery, but the overall aesthetic is white concrete with industrial accents. There are architectural and design firms here, as well as a number of the city’s most upscale modern furniture businesses. Check out the hippest restaurants in town, as well as yoga studios, kickboxing gyms, gourmet cheese shops, and so on. Even the Central Avenue convenience shop appears to be new and distinct. Whole Foods, which is only across Fruitville Road, will be your neighborhood supermarket when you need more than milk and paper towels. It must be a condo or townhouse if you wish to buy rather than rent. The few older residences in the area have been demolished or are set to be demolished. Condos start at $310,000 for a two-bedroom property in one of the high-rises overlooking the Trail, though most are in the $400,000s and higher.

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