+ City agrees to sell parcel on Palm Avenue for hotel
City commissioners moved ahead with plans to sell a parcel on Palm Avenue to Floridays Development Co., which plans to build a boutique arts hotel.
Floridays President Angus Rogers said his team is finalizing an architectural plan designed to be “timeless” and has added an extra 20 rooms, to the now 200-room, nine-story, arts-themed hotel.
The project proposal, however, is at least two months from approval.
The city still needs to work out a redevelopment agreement and parking agreement with Floridays. In addition, the project is on hold because of a pending lawsuit against the city from a previous developer.
In July, city commissioners chose Floridays Development Co.’s plans to build an independent boutique hotel on the city-owned site at Palm Avenue at Cocoanut Avenue.
The company has agreed to pay $2.1 million for the hotel site. That price tag is the latest appraisal of the land; the previous appraisal was $3.4 million. The Buck-Leiter Group, one of the potential developers of the Palm Avenue land during a previous call for proposals, filed a suit last year claiming the city breached its 2007 contract with the development group.
City Attorney Bob Fournier said Floridays has been working closely with the city and is willing to hold off on a final agreement until the lawsuit is resolved.
“We have a buyer that is willing to wait this out and see it through,” said Fournier.
Rogers said he was excited about the hotel project.
“I still believe this is the right project,” Rogers told commissioners.
MEETING WRAP UP
Sarasota County Commission
At the joint meeting between the Sarasota and Manatee County Commissions Tuesday, April 16:
• Commissioners from both counties directed staff to draft an interlocal agreement committing the counties to a regional approach to public transportation. A private operator or public transit authority are two ideas staff will consider to oversee a joint system.
Combining transit systems could make federal funding more attainable and reduce costs through economies of scale, but staff stopped short of any guarantees before private firms pitch proposals or quotes.
“I would be hesitant about promising any savings,” said Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said. “Because salesmen are salesmen — they’ll try and sell you the sizzle.”
In other items, commissioners:
• Agreed they would need more information about bus rapid transit — a high-quality bus system — before picking a route connecting Sarasota and Manatee counties. During a meeting with the Sarasota County Commission, Sarasota city commissioners supported a route along U.S. 41. Sarasota County staff has pitched routes along that arterial road, as wells as U.S. 301 and a railroad corridor.
• Debated a “divergent diamond” interchange at University Parkway and I-75 the Florida Department of Transportation proposed.
Sarasota City Commission
At the City Commission meeting Monday, April 16:
• Commissioners unanimously directed City Manager Tom Barwin to establish an ad hoc committee charged with studying possible ordinances regulating downtown sound. The committee will be made up of five to seven community members.
At a March meeting, commissioners had voted 4-1 against the concept of forming the committee, but Commissioner Terry Turner placed the item back on the agenda Monday, April 15. Turner said he wanted to see a committee formed that would take on the issue because residents are complaining about noise violations downtown.
“We started this effort,” Turner said. “We led the citizens to believe there would be a solution coming. And, in my opinion, I think we let them down.”
The committee, likely to be comprised of both downtown residents and business owners, will study possible regulations.
Commissioners also directed City Attorney Bob Fournier to review the city’s current noise ordinance and report back to commissioners in May. Commissioners also directed city officials to enact proactive enforcement of the current noise ordinance.
In other business, commissioners:
• Removed tandem parking from a zoning text amendment proposed on Golden Gate Point.
• In the wake of the Newtown school shooting and Boston Marathon bombings, discussed possible training for elected officials and law enforcement. The training would likely be a half-day session during which an expert would train city officials on methods to prepare for and respond to potential terrorist situations.
• Approved a six-day Sarasota Chalk Festival in Burns Square. Last year, the event was 10 days long. Commissioners, however, postponed a decision to grant $18,000 in fee waivers for the annual event.
Meetings & Agendas
• Sarasota County Planning Commission meeting — 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, R.L. Anderson Administration Center, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
• Sarasota County Commission meeting — 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 24, Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
• Sarasota City Commission regular meeting — 2:30 and 6 p.m. Monday, May 6, Sarasota City Hall, Commission Chambers, 1565 First St.
• City of Sarasota Runn-off Election — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, Supervisor of Elections polling locations.