Pursuit of downtown visitors center to continue


Pursuit of downtown visitors center to continue


Date: February 16, 2010
by: Robin Roy | City Editor


Despite a less than enthusiastic response from the head of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, the board of the Downtown Improvement District will continue to push for a visitors center either on Main Street or close to it.

“I think it’s that important,” said Larry Fineberg, DID chairman and SCVB board member. “It’s one thing we can do that can have a major impact downtown.”

The DID has been discussing the possibility of locating a new visitors center in a retail space in the soon-to-be-built Palm Avenue parking garage.

But Virginia Haley, SCVB president, said the parking garage has too many disadvantages: it’s not on a major thoroughfare, has too few surface parking spaces and the retail spaces are just shells. The SCVB doesn’t have the money to construct the office inside the empty storefront.

She also cited the fact that the county, which has ultimate control over the SCVB, is discussing merging it into one building with the Economic Development Corporation, Arts Council and Chamber of Commerce.

Fineberg suggested a first step to getting the SCVB into the heart of the city — have it set up a booth at the Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market, which draws hundreds of people every Saturday.

“Have it manned and give some good information,” he said. “I think it’s important to have a presence at the farmers market.”

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.

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