The city is considering amping up the “mixed” aspect to its mixed-use garage project on State Street.
During the City Commission meeting Monday, May 3, city planners and representatives from A.D. Morgan, the design-and-build team the city chose to build the project, presented four concepts for the parking project.
The base plan would include about 386 public parking spaces and 14,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. The city would sell the retail space. That model would result in a smaller — albeit similar — version of the Palm Avenue garage, which includes 743 spaces and 11,200 square feet of first floor commercial space.
The three other concepts, however, each add more than 30,000 square feet of space for additional uses ranging from 45 condo units to a luxury rehab spa on top of the garage.
The three larger concept plans, called Option A, Option B and Option C, would allow a private developer to work with the city to build above or directly beside the parking shell. Those options would ultimately lead to a more complex project than the Palm Avenue garage, which opened in December 2010.
Mayor Shannon Snyder liked Option C the best.
“I was in favor of retail on the ground floor, parking garage and condos on Lemon Avenue,” Snyder said after the meeting.
Asked why not just build a project similar to the Palm Avenue garage, which did not include residential units, Snyder said that the more uses in the State Street garage, the more of a positive impact it will have on downtown.
“It shouldn’t just be a place where people come to go to bars or restaurants. It should be a place where people live,” said Snyder.
In options A, B and C, the city would undertake a public-private partnership, in which the city would fund construction of the parking spaces, while private developers would pay for additional residential or other uses incorporated into the development, said Sarasota Senior Planner Steve Stancel.
The State Street project would also differ from Palm Avenue in the way the city selects retail occupants for the first floor of the project.
“This is different than Palm Avenue,” Stancel told commissioners Monday. “(Real-estate broker) Ian Black will work with us from the beginning. It is being actively marketed as we develop these plans.”
Commissioner Suzanne Atwell said she did not want to see a repeat of the long wait before retail space was sold on the first floor of the Palm Avenue garage. Louies Modern and The Francis, a catering/banquet facility, moved into that space in April, more than two years after the garage was built.
Steve Horn, a broker/partner at Ian Black Real Estate, assured commissioners his company already has “significant interest in the retail space.”
Horn has also heard from several developers interested in partnering with the city to build a residential component. Developers were most excited about Option C, he said.
“It makes the most sense to have a residential component,” Horn said. “It’s the right timing in the market to do it.”
Under the city’s zoning, the project could add up to 45 residential units downtown.
Although commissioners did not choose a specific plan Monday, in a unanimous vote they directed city staff and A.D. Morgan to proceed with creating more detailed concepts, while trying to reach an agreement with a prospective developer.
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo agreed with Snyder.
“What I don’t want to see is solely parking deck(s),” Caragiulo said. “I’d like to see the most practical and best use of space that maximizes the potential for tax revenue.”
City Manager Tom Barwin compared the State Street project to Sarasota’s Palm Avenue garage in terms of financing structure, in which the city funds construction of the parking spaces and a private developer pays for additional uses.
The mix of different uses is more similar, however, to a mixed-use parking garage project in Oak Park, Ill., where Barwin was village manager from 2006 to 2012, the city manager said. The Oak Park project was designed to include 270 residential units, in addition to 588 parking spaces and 25,000 square feet of commercial space.
Barwin considered the project’s location to be a “signature site,” and the goal of its development was to make Oak Park’s downtown more of a place to “live, work and shop,” according to Oak Park’s request for proposals.
The State Street project remains fluid while A.D. Morgan designs elements of architecture, building layout and exact square footage, and Rebecca Smith, president of A.D. Morgan, said designers remain flexible as additional feedback comes in from public workshops.
The next public meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. June 20, in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 1565 First St.
“By the end of July we hope to bring back to you a concept plan, including a couple of façade options,” Stancel told commissioners.
Snyder would also like to see the city work with the county on creating a Tax Increment Financing improvement district to fund streetscape improvements on State Street at the same time the parking project is constructed.
“State Street is an extension of Main Street,” Snyder said.
The city has set aside $7.29 million in tax-increment financing for the parking project.
Construction is slated to begin in February.
The city must have the project built by February 2015, because of a 2010 agreement with Pineapple Square. The site is currently home to a 139-space-parking lot.