St. Armands appears poised to get a long-desired parking garage to address parking issues near the Circle, but the city’s Urban Design Studio would like to explore other options before undertaking such a project.
At today’s St. Armands Business Improvement District meeting, the Urban Design Studio team provided an overview of how the city’s forthcoming form-based code could impact the area. As part of that presentation, Urban Design Studio director Karin Murphy recommended exploring the possible addition of on-street spaces before committing to the construction of a parking structure near the Circle.
Already, the Urban Design Studio has targeted a stretch of John Ringling Boulevard, east of Washington Drive, as an area where more parking could be added. The land, already used for overflow parking on events weekends, could be converted into roughly 160 on-street parking spaces, according to Principal Urban Designer Andrew Georgiadis.
That addition alone would be equal to nearly two floors of a proposed garage — though it would still fall short of covering St. Armands’ effective parking shortage of 320 spaces, according to a city parking study. Still, if a parking garage can be avoided, Murphy believes the money could be better spent elsewhere.
“With that money, we could be funding a streetcar line or a water taxi,” Murphy said.
Murphy and Georgiadis believe the Circle could benefit greatly from increased public transit options in the city. Alternate forms of transportation could make the pedestrian shopping experience more enjoyable while reducing congestion from cars on the island, Murphy said.
In particular, the Urban Design Studio is hoping to revive old plans to create a water taxi that would bring passengers from the mainland onto the city island. The group believes the water taxi would be particularly well used by tourists looking to visit the Circle.
“It's a very desirable tourist mode of transit,” Murphy said. “Tourists are low hanging fruit when it comes to getting them out of the car.”
For more information on the Urban Design Studio’s work on St. Armands, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Sarasota Observer.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].