Sarasota County could soon be the mecca for international Chinese scholars, as Elling Eide's dream continues to take shape two years after his death.
Yesterday, Sarasota County planning commissioners unanimously approved the rezone of 58 acres of bayfront property west of U.S. 41 near Sarasota Square Mall, which is owned by the Elling O. Eide Charitable Foundation. The new zoning distinction allows the foundation to house scholars studying at the 14,000-square-foot library that's currently under construction, said Sarasota County planner Mark Loveridge.
In the ’80s, Eide battled the county in court for nearly a decade to get 14 acres of his roughly 100-acre property zoned for commercial development. The former University of Illinois professor wanted to sign a long-term land-lease agreement with a developer to build and maintain a library for his collection of Chinese literature.
Though he only published one book, “On Li Po,” in 1971, Eide owned at least 60,000, and as many as 100,000, volumes of Chinese literature.
The development plan for the property also includes an observation tower, a cafe and seven residential units.
The Sarasota County Commission must give the final approval for the rezone request. Commissioners will consider the proposal March 19.