Investor Eric Baird plans to bring in "high-end" retailers.

The 88-year-old Kress Building in downtown Sarasota has sold for $5.8 million.


Local real estate investor Eric Baird said he closed the purchase on Tuesday, with plans to draw retailers to the vacant first floor.


The 25,500-square-foot building at 1440 Main St. was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.


"It’s such a spectacular building," Baird said in a news release. "And this is a great opportunity to put some new, high-end retailers on Main Street."


The sole current tenant is FIMC Insurance, which occupies the second and third floors and intends to renew its lease in September. Baird said he plans to move his company, EB Kress LLC, to the fourth floor.


The S.E. Kress & Co. nationwide chain of five-and-dime stores opened the building in 1932, a boost to local economic development during the Great Depression. Its distinct modern architecture and brick-and-stone façade make it one of the last remaining Art Deco landmarks in the area.


The awning and façade still show the "Kress" logo and the inscription, "5-10-25 CENT STORE."


Baird bought the building from Doug Libertore of 1 Health Place International, according to the news release.


It’s the second historic building to recently change hands in downtown Sarasota.


Last month the Caldwell Trust Co. bought the 84-year-old Cain/Wilson building at 27 Orange Ave. for $3.35 million, with plans to renovate if for a future office.


Baird is a partner with Jesse Biter and David Chessler in ownership of the Sarasota Main Plaza at the east end of downtown. Last November they sold the western section of that property for $20 million to a Connecticut developer that plans 410 apartment units and ground-floor retail.


Kevin Robbins of Harry E. Robbins Associates represented Baird in the Kress purchase.