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Lido pavilion
Sarasota Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 5 years ago

Could a mini golf course come to Lido Beach?

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Spearheaded by a Daiquiri Deck co-owner, a proposal to redevelop the Lido pool and pavilion also calls for a water park and a 305-seat restaurant.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

When a group led by Daiquiri Deck President and co-owner Troy Syprett submitted plans to redevelop the Lido Beach pool and pavilion, the proposal included one particularly notable feature: a miniature golf course.

On Saturday, Syprett explained the thought process behind the plans to a skeptical crowd of Lido Key residents. The proposed mini golf course, he said, was a matter  of practicality.

In 2014, the city issued an invitation to negotiate in hopes of securing a lessee willing to fund improvements to the Lido facilities, located just off the beach.

Syprett said he felt the need to create an asset for the city of Sarasota, which once considered shuttering the pool and pavilion for half the year to cut costs.

“I look at Lido Beach, and it always confounds me that Lido hasn’t been recognized the same way Siesta has been,” Syprett said. “It’s just as nice as Siesta — the amenities attached with it is always where it’s been lacking.”

Considering the environmental and height restrictions on the property, the group had limited options as it sought to make its plans stand out.

And so, this past weekend, Syprett found himself detailing the evolution of mini golf course design to the Lido Key Residents Association.

“When you think of a mini golf course, you think of clown heads and windmills and that sort of thing,” Syprett said. “Those are mini golf courses of the past.”

Plans & Partners

A city committee selected Syprett’s group to negotiate with the city to assume responsibility for the Lido pool and pavilion. Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners LLC is a team consisting of restaurant partnership SMG Holdings, which owns Daiquiri Deck, and developer JWM Management, which is currently developing One Palm in Sarasota.

The group’s proposal entails more than just a mini golf course. The current concession building would be turned into a restaurant with 305 outdoor seats —not a Daiquiri Deck, but one offering a similar menu focused on Caribbean cuisine and seafood.

"It’s just as nice as Siesta — the amenities attached with it is always where it’s been lacking." — Troy Syprett

An ice cream shop, sundry store and renovated bathroom area would occupy a second building. Other features include an open space area for special events, a playground, a tiki bar, new cabanas at the pool and a small water park/splash pad area targeted at kids 9 years old and younger.

Although the partnership formed for this project, its roots go back nearly five decades. Syprett was childhood friends with Gavin Meshad, vice president of JWM Management. Both men felt strongly about improving the community they grew up in, and saw an opportunity to reconnect professionally after pursuing separate career paths.

“Troy’s got the entrepreneurial vision, and my job is to critique everything,” Meshad said. “That’s kind of been our role since we were kids.”

“Being long-time residents of Sarasota, we felt this was an opportunity to see Lido Beach turned into the jewel it should be,” Syprett said.

Reluctant Residents

Certain Lido Key residents object to the implication that the beach needs significant improving from its current state.

John Lambert was a member of the Ad-Hoc Lido Pool Committee, a group founded to persuade the city to keep the pool open year round and invest in the property. He felt the plan was nothing like what the residents wanted after hearing from Syprett.

“If we want to go to a big restaurant, we just have to go up to St. Armands,” Lambert said. “The committee was not interested in commercializing this at the time, and I don’t think we are now.”

"If we want to go to a big restaurant, we just have to go up to St. Armands." — John Lambert

Carl Shoffstall, another member of the pool committee and president of the Lido Key Residents Association, disputed that point. The committee’s recommendations included a tiki bar, splash park, playground and sundry shop. It also suggested an outdoor eating area and “enhanced food service.”

“They followed what we, as an association, said in three presentations to the commission as to what we would like to see,” Shoffstall said.

At Saturday’s meeting, a series of concerns arose — including, but not limited to, questions about parking, traffic, food quality, revenue splits, liquor sales and the character of the clientele that might be attracted to a mini golf course.

The proposal is still in early planning stages. Things like the mini golf course were included to produce another income stream and an alternative to just adding a restaurant to the 2.5-acre pavilion area. Syprett’s open to change.

“The only element that would kill the whole project for us is if you kicked the restaurant out,” He said.

Before the meeting wrapped to a close, Shoffstall assured those in attendance that more opportunities to offer feedback would arise in the future, as Syprett’s group continued negotiations with the city. David Boswell, the city’s assistant purchasing manager, said there would likely be multiple community workshops before the proposal even went to the commission for review.

As Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners continues its pursuit of the pool and pavilion, Meshad urged residents to keep an open mind when they ruminate on Syprett’s vision for the property.

“Please don’t judge him because you like or don’t like the Daiquiri Deck,” Meshad said. “He’s much more evolved than that.”

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