By JOAN ALTABE
“Tenants are lining up to rent a space in this center,” says Sarasota architect Yehuda Inbar, who restored the structure to its original, Colonial red-brick glory. The latest tenant to move in is Florida Power and Light Co.
What did Inbar do to rescue the dying structure: “Very little,” he said. Apparently, little things mean a lot.
The changes: new lighting fixtures and new landscaping Instead of harshtube lighting, the architect chose carriage lights, those cast-iron fixtures of Colonial America. “The lights bring human scale to the project and help to warm it up,” he explained.
Landscaping includes new planters, which, serving as a buffer between the parking lot and the building, separate pedestrian walkways from cars. Add the planters to the existing cupola atop the building, and the overall effect is one of a rolling hill. Tall trees at the rear, which frame the building, add to the countryside illusion.
“The idea is, instead of demolishing an existing building or altering its style, we find value in it and add to it,” said Inbar.
“Changing style would not have added more value to the shopping center. Why spend money on a stvle that would not enhance the architecture, but only change the style? The older this building is, the more character it has. Brick is long-lasting. To cover it with stucco, which is trendy right now, would make it look like any other building. It would have no charac-ter to it. Stucco would have covered over the building s details.”
“In architecture, people sometimes try too hard, do too much to make a statement,” Inhar concluded.
The shopping center makes a statement, despite the minimal touches. The building, on the border between downtown Sarasota and a residential neighborhood behinti Lime Avenue, sans to people that downtown still holds some of its small-town charm.