After months of permitting delays, a new mixed-use building in the Siesta Key Village received the OK to move forward from the Sarasota County Commission Tuesday. The move garnered the collective praise of Siesta Key Village business owners and nearby condominium tenants.
The site’s property owners, Jim Syprett and Jay Lancer, spent four years planning the project — located on the former grounds of Napoli’s Pizza, at 5242 and 5238 Ocean Blvd. The former Napoli’s Pizza building was demolished last summer, but Napoli’s recently reopened at a new location in the Village at 5240 Ocean Blvd.
The new 10,000-square-foot building will feature ground-floor retail space as well as three rental units on the second floor.
Gidget’s Coastal Provisions, a high-end clothing and gift store, will occupy the retail space under the ownership of Trudy Wigelsworth, wife of Siesta Key Crystal Classic founder Brian Wigelsworth.
The new building’s second story will comprise three transient-use accommodations, which the county classifies as residential units that are allowed to be rented or leased for periods of less than 30 days and are considered a commercial use under the applicable zoning ordinances.
The building, which Siesta Key architect Mark Smith designed, departs from traditional property use in the Village — and it also departed from both county and Siesta Key Overlay District zoning rules, which required commissioners to approve a special permit exception for the project to advance.
The property is currently zoned under Commercial General and Siesta Key Overlay District restrictions; the retail use is permitted under those rules, but transient accommodations require a special exception.
Smith said the permitting process “hit a snag” last summer, but he and the property owners decided to press on with construction, anticipating their special exception request would ultimately be approved.
With the building fast approaching completion, however, Smith said that plans were in the works to use the second-floor accommodations as storage space if the permit request remained in limbo.
Village business owners and nearby condominium residents welcomed the County Commission’s Tuesday approval of Smith’s request, citing the benefits of more diversity among Village properties and the possibility of a détente between some Village restaurants and a nearby condominium in a longstanding feud over noise complaints.
Peter van Roekens, a resident of Terrace East condominiums, which border the Siesta Village, praised Smith’s proposal at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting. He said the new structure’s high walls had already dampened the transmittal of live-music from the neighboring Siesta Key Oyster Bar, potentially defusing a perpetual squabble between Terrace East and some Village establishments over noise.
“Anytime you can replace a bar with retail in Siesta it’s a great idea,” van Roekens said. “We think highly of this project, and we’d like to support it.”
Syprett and Lancer own the two properties on either side of the site, home to the Siesta Key Oyster Bar and the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar.
Parking concerns and a prior special-exception permit for the site were the primary obstacles to Tuesday’s request.
Napoli’s Pizza operated on the site according to another, separate special-exception permit from 2001, authorizing a restaurant or bar to operate on the site despite inadequate available parking.
Smith assured commissioners that the previous special-exception permit would expire following the award of Smith’s latest request.
“If for some reason the retail shop went under and a restaurant wanted to go in there, they would need 23 parking spaces,” Smith said.
According to the special permit application Smith submitted, the new building will have 10 parking spots — one more than the minimum of nine required to accommodate the rental units.
Siesta Key Village Association President Cheryl Gaddie praised the commission’s decision, adding that, although she was in favor of additional retail space in the Village, the new building did not mark a trend toward fewer restaurants and bars along Ocean Boulevard.
“I don’t think we have enough retail, and the addition of any new retail space in the Village is a real positive,” Gaddie said. “I also think it would be a bad thing if all the bars and restaurants went away — there’s magic in moderation.”
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