(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

SARASOTA, FL-An ambitious mixed-use project that will include Downtown Sarasota’s largest office building and a Waldorf-Astoria luxury hotel is on track to begin construction later this year, according to its developer. The Proscenium is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.

Gary Moyer, president of Lion’s Gate Development, says he expects construction on all of Proscenium’s components, including two landmark 18-story towers, to begin simultaneously. He expects entitlements on the six-acre property in Downtown Sarasota to be in place this summer, after which demolition of existing properties there can begin.

“We’re building everything at the same time. Everything won’t be completed at the same time,” Moyer says. “We’re moving forward as fast as we can because of our time commitments to the end users.”

The $1-billion Proscenium project, announced last May, will include 300,000 sf of class A office space, 130,000 sf of retail and restaurants, an 800-seat performing arts center and 211 ultra-luxury residences. Lion’s Gate also announced in March that the 225-room hotel will be branded as part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection by Hilton Hotels Corp.

Moyer, who is partnering with Lion’s Gate VP on the ambitious development, disputes a previous report by GlobeSt.com that the Proscenium’s office component is on hold. He says the building has received commitments “in one stage or another” from prospective tenants for approximately 150,000 sf of the project’s office inventory.

Sarasota’s office market has more than 15 million sf of inventory with vacancy rates well below 10%, according to figures by Colliers Arnold. Other office projects have been announced in recent years, but many brokers say they would like to see them actually completed before trying to gauge their success.

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