Main Street merchants have both sticker shock and construction shock over preliminary cost options for a Main Street project that could cost as much as $14 million and take years to complete.
At a special Downtown Improvement District Board of Directors meeting Dec. 15, at City Hall, Kimley-Horn and Associates design officials presented their preliminary opinion of probable cost for a project that would include bricking both Main Street and the sidewalks from Bayfront Drive to Orange Avenue in the historic district.
It would cost the DID and taxpayers approximately $2.9 million to perform such work, which includes converting angled parking to parallel parking and refurbishing utilities underneath the road, from Bayfront Drive to the Five Points roundabout.
Out of that project cost for that segment, it would cost $650,000 to brick the street.
When it was estimated that section could start construction in May 2013 and take at least nine months to complete, groans were heard from the five merchants in attendance at the meeting.
James Derheim, owner of European Focus on Main Street, said he was disgusted with what was proposed.
“We are in survival mode right now,” Derheim said. “This project would put us into a death spiral. Please don’t do it right now.”
It would cost approximately $4 million to perform the same work from the Five Points roundabout to Orange Avenue.
Main Street from Orange Avenue to Osprey Avenue, which would not be bricked and includes more aesthetic improvements and landscape bulbouts, would cost approximately $3.5 million.
The same type of improvements would be performed on Main Street from Osprey Avenue to U.S. 301 and cost approximately $3.5 million.
Also, a planned roundabout at Main Street and Orange Avenue would cost approximately $1.9 million to construct.
DID Chairman Ernie Ritz pointed out these were only preliminary estimates and the DID has the option of eliminating some of the proposed construction.
Through his suggestions for future cost breakdowns for the DID to consider Jan. 3, Ritz made it known he is listening to the merchants’ concerns.
“The merchants don’t want the bricking of street and they don’t want parallel parking,” said Ritz, who also suggested the existing sidewalks could be coated with a new material rather than tearing them up for brick sidewalks.
Derheim was glad to hear the suggestions.
“We absolutely don’t want parallel parking,” Derheim said. “It will not work on Main Street, and it will stop traffic completely.”
Kimley-Horn design officials will come back to the DID Jan. 3 and provide breakdowns for what it would cost to eliminate the bricking of the street and sidewalks and keep the angled parking.
Ritz, though, said he thinks the renovations of Main Street from Orange Avenue to U.S. 301 would work and not create a lot of havoc for merchants.
“That would be the biggest impact in terms of transformation for Main Street with the least amount of impact on merchants,” Ritz said.
The Sarasota City Commission will review the DID’s recommendations in February.
In the meantime, Ritz expressed displeasure that only five merchants showed up to voice their concerns and urged those in attendance to get more merchants to attend the DID’s January meeting.
Main Street Project Costs
Bayfront Drive to Five Points Park roundabout: $2,992,000
Five Points roundabout to Orange Avenue: $4,020,000
Orange Avenue to Osprey Avenue: $3,537,000
Osprey Avenue to U.S. 301: $3,486,000
“This is the opportunity for you (merchants) to tell us what you want,” Ritz said.