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Community Spotlight: The Art of City Living in Downtown Sarasota

by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer


The idea of a “livable community” is nothing radical or progressive. It’s simple—ordinary even. And yet, in the hectic pace of modern life, we often lose sight of the most integral piece in this

Our basic human need is to feel connected with each other, to engage in social, civic and environmental impact, to find a sense of well-being that comes from togetherness. So, why not have direct access to all those features right here at home?

            As the Sarasota area becomes more revitalized and metropolitan, the desire for livable communities is high. People want affordable housing, supportive amenities and trusted security measures in close proximity to the vibrant pulse of urban life. And one community, in particular, is meeting that demand.

CitySide is a four-story, 228-unit apartment complex located in the heart of the Rosemary District, one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Sarasota. In fact, CitySide has a walkability score of 91 out of 100 with a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores and boutiques—all just around the corner.

To gain more insight on how this livable community has transformed the health and happiness of its residents and buttressed a local renaissance of our historic downtown, I spoke with CitySide’s executive property manager Julia Sawyer in the Q&A session below. 


Natural Awakenings: How does CitySide integrate sustainable living practices into the different aspects of this residential community?

Julia Sawyer: We encourage the use of bicycles with convenient, secure on-site bicycle storage and a complimentary Bike Share Program. We also have the first Zipcar share, available to both residents and non-residents, which can make owning a car unnecessary. The community features Energy Star appliances, zero VOC paint, low-flow plumbing fixtures, double paned windows, and both concrete and steel construction rather than wood.

In our clubhouse, we offer two water bottle re-fill stations with filtered water and complimentary spa water, reducing the need for plastic water bottles. Our complementary coffee station offers recycled paper products, bamboo stir sticks instead of plastic, and we encourage the “bring your own cup” philosophy. In addition, our community offers door-side, valet recycling service which simplifies recycling for our residents, and the Florida friendly landscaping provides shade for pedestrians and a habitat for birds or butterflies.


NA: What kinds of wellness programming do you offer to foster social connections and encourage healthy lifestyles among the residents?

Sawyer: We began a series of educational and hands-on wellness seminars this year, and have facilitated workshops each month on a variety of topics, ranging from the Ketogenic diet to apartment organization hacks. These wellness programs are complimentary for all our residents. In addition, we just completed the “Science of Mediation” and introduced a weekly mediation class in our yoga studio.


NA: How does the integration of green building and living standards in this community increase environmental protection efforts?

Sawyer: With many residents in one building, we have the opportunity to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprints within an urban setting. Through our services and educational programs, we enhance the quality of life for our residents, while improving the compliance rates on eco-friendly initiatives such as recycling and green commuting.



NA: In your opinion, what specific features distinguish CitySide from other rental communities throughout the Sarasota area?

Sawyer: Aside from our beautiful grounds, sparkling pool and top-notch apartment finishes, the people are what truly separates CitySide from other rentals. The on-site staff members coordinate the most amazing events and amenities for our residents. From the social gatherings to the complimentary fitness schedule to the full-service concierge, both our staff and residents have fostered a true sense of community that is like nowhere else here in downtown Sarasota.


NA: For the CitySide team, what does it personally mean to create a sustainable living community, and how can this improve well-being?

Sawyer: We strive to make sustainable living easy for our residents, so resourcing them with the right information is crucial. We communicate best practices through our online resident portal and monthly newsletters, and we share ideas for sustainable apartment living throughout social media platforms. Our residents also seek out ways to make the community greener and voice their suggestions all the time.

We have many residents interested in a rooftop garden, and we are exploring methods for implementing this soon. Offering programs, services and a caring staff allows our residents to focus on their well-being. Our goal is to eliminate the guesswork and stress, while promoting ease and accessibility. This is what makes a difference in people’s daily lives.


So, is anyone else just about ready to move in? Yeah...I thought so!


CitySide Apartments are located at 700 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota. For more information on this property, call 941-787-3333 or visit

 [JS1]Title suggests that we are coming to the area/being built or brand new. We are a 1.5 year old and lots of new buildings going up around us, so I would like to distinguish that we are here and not coming. Maybe “The Art of City Living in the Rosemary District”?

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