Observer Updates

 

Observer Updates

 

Date: March 25, 2010
by: Robin Roy | City Editor

 
 

+ Golden Apple loan decision to come next week from DID
The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre will have to wait another week before it finds out if the Downtown Improvement District will give it a $144,000 loan.

Without that money, the 40-year-old dinner theater’s owners say they may have to close their doors permanently.

Owner Robert Turoff said the combination of the Palm Avenue parking garage construction, which will last until December, and the Five Points roundabout construction, which is scheduled from July to November, will eliminate all of his customer parking.

“I’m aware what we are asking is extraordinary,” Turoff told the DID board March 23. “We have exhausted all other avenues.”

Because one of the board’s five members was absent from the March 23 meeting, the DID put off a decision until next week, but the remaining board members made their feelings known.

“We need to figure out the minimum it takes to keep you going,” said DID Chairman Larry Fineberg. “But not with dollars.”

Fineberg and board member Andrew Foley are looking for a way the DID, the city and the Golden Apple can work together to create signs that direct customers to available parking.

Foley, who has expressed support for keeping the theater open, wants to find alternative ways to help, including calling the Plaza at Five Points to see if it might offer some parking spots to the theater’s valet service.

The city is also preparing a number of public-service announcements to advertise that all of downtown will still be open during the construction. Foley suggested that Turoff could be featured in one of those ads.

+ City to partially fund Offshore Grand Prix
Two weeks ago, the organizers of the Offshore Grand Prix needed more than $100,000 to put on the weeklong event.

But last week the city came up with $16,000 that will help pay for the July 1 boat parade — $9,000 from TIF funds and $7,000 from the public works department.

Organizers still need $90,000 to fund the boat race and fireworks and still have money left over to donate to the children’s charities they support.

“Ten other cities are eyeing this festival,” said Lucy Nicandry, festival director. “We want to make sure we keep this in Sarasota and raise money for kids with special needs.”

The Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau says the Offshore Grand Prix week results in an economic impact of more than $9 million.

Nicandry hopes that some sponsors or individuals may step forward to help defray the cost, although she said if the $90,000 isn’t collected, the event will still go on, but it will mean no money would be left to go to charity.

During more robust economic times, the city and major sponsors picked up all the costs.

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.
 

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