+ Parking-garage plan detailed
The city of Sarasota solicited the public’s input Thursday evening into the design of a parking garage on Palm Avenue.
The 2.2-acre site would have 600 to 700 parking spaces on up to five levels. The ground floor would contain about 14,000 square feet of retail space fronting Palm Avenue.
City planner Steve Stancel said the city had several goals for the garage, including: cost efficiency; pleasing aesthetics that blend into the current neighborhood; environmentally friendly design and pedestrian connectivity to Main Street and cultural destinations, such as the opera.
Stancel said the cost is estimated from $10.8 million to $13.2 million.
The city has not decided whether it will sell the retail portion of the project or keep it and lease the space itself.
An aggressive construction plan has been proposed for the Palm Avenue garage.
The city will request developer proposals later this month, with a response deadline of June or July. A developer would be selected in August. Construction would begin in May 2010, and an estimated completion date would be October 2010.
+ FCAT scores show improvement
Sarasota County students, in all grades, increased their scores on the spring FCAT exam this year.
The results were released last week and show students in the three grades tested — fourth, eighth and 10th — all improved their writing scores.
Additionally, fourth-graders achieving a 3.5 or higher on the essay rose to 91% this year from 85% in 2008.
Eighth-graders went from a score of 90% last year to 92% this year. Tenth-graders’ scores were steady at 75%.
A 3.5 score is considered to be on grade level.
The number of students scoring 4.0 or higher increased from 75% to 84% in fourth grade. In eighth grade, the percentage of students achieving at least a 4.0 score went from 81% last year to 84% this year. Tenth-graders’ scores slightly declined, going from 59% last year to 58% this year.
+ Sarasota named top arts destination
In its latest issue, American Style magazine lists Sarasota among the top arts destinations in the country.
The magazine ranks Sarasota as 11th among the nation’s small cities.
Santa Fe, N.M., was named the No. 1 small city. Key West was third, and Naples was 22nd.
The top large city was New York City, and the No. 1 mid-size city was Buffalo, N.Y.