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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 10 years ago

City accommodates Ritz-Carlton expansion

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, in the planning stages of a significant expansion, has received a favorable ruling from the City Commission.

Under current city code, the hotel would have to build a liner building at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Ritz-Carlton Drive and, to do so, would have to eliminate a portion of its lush landscaping. The code does not allow a property owner to ask for a code adjustment.

The expansion calls for a new tower with an additional 119 rooms with direct views of the bay and an extended parking garage.

It would be built over the current single-level building at the northeast corner and extend to the north.

General Manager Jim McManemon said it could attract large groups seeking to hold conventions or meetings in Sarasota during the off-season.

“Additional rooms will surely bring in more sales-tax dollars, including bed tax used for marketing Sarasota tourism, as well as additional money for the arts, beach renourishment, baseball stadium and other important uses,” he said.

City attorney Bob Fournier told commissioners last week that he was under the impression that if the liner-building requirement was not waived, then the owners of the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, SLAB LLC, may cancel the expansion.

Fournier gave the commission three options:

•Take no action and require a liner building.

•Amend the zoning code to allow SLAB LLC to apply for an adjustment.

•Determine that the development agreement supercedes the code.

The commission unanimously chose the last option. It cites the 1999 Right of Way Use Agreement between the hotel owners and the city, which recognizes the “trademark of a Ritz-Carlton hotel is typically a lushly landscaped, visually appealing entranceway.”

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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