To address parking issues on St. Armands Circle, some people believe that two garages are better than one.
The city of Sarasota is working with consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates to finalize a parking study that seeks to address a longstanding problem on St. Armands. On Tuesday, the city held a public meeting at which residents, merchants and landowners on the Circle weighed in on the most recent draft of the report.
According to the study, there is an effective parking supply of 990 spaces on St. Armands. A 2013 study measured peak non-event demand at 1,121 spaces, and projected that total to reach 1,310 spaces over the next seven years.
To address that projected effective parking shortage of 320 spaces, the draft report recommends the construction of a 400- to 500-car garage. The study outlines two potential sites for a garage — public parking lots on North and South Adams Drive.
As the consultants walked through the strengths and weaknesses of each site, St. Armands Business Improvement District Vice Chairman Marty Rappaport proposed an idea not outlined in the study.
Instead of building one four-level garage — which some residents indicated could be disruptive to neighborhoods — he said the city should consider building a smaller garage at both locations.
The idea was well received by those in attendance. In addition to blending in with the neighborhoods, they said, it would encourage better traffic flow and draw cars out of residential areas.
Kimley-Horn Project Manager Mark Santos and city Parking Director Mark Lyons warned that the cost would be much higher to construct two garages instead of one, particularly if the city wanted to preserve the option of expanding the garages.
Rappaport said a residential liner building fronting the South Adams garage could help cover the expenses. With three groups seemingly on board with smaller garages, he said, price should be secondary — especially considering how long those stakeholders have pushed to get a garage in place.
“It’s better to have something that’s going to satisfy everyone than it is to have nothing and still be talking about this 20 years from now,” Rappaport said.
Lyons said a finalized study could appear before the city commission within 60 days. Considering the support shown for a two-garage plan, he said the study would seriously consider that option.
“We’re going to apply good management practices and analysis to see whether it will fit the bill,” Lyons said.
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