The prospective buyer of the Sarasota Kennel Club has plans to redevelop the property as an apartment complex with up to 380 units, which has some neighbors worried about traffic.
During a July 1 community workshop, Sean Flanagan ran down some of the factors that complicate the process of redeveloping the former site of the Sarasota Kennel Club: the proximity to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, the presence of a canal cutting through the property and the need to tear up asphalt and demolish existing structures.
Flanagan is senior development director for Raleigh, North Carolina-based Aventon Cos., which has filed a preliminary application with the city seeking authorization to build up to 380 apartments on the kennel club site. As that proposal is set to advance through the city’s development review process, Flanagan said Aventon’s experience as a developer and manager of apartment complexes would be an asset in bringing the project to fruition.
“Those obstacles are really nothing that we haven’t dealt with before,” Flanagan said. “Our vision for this site is to make this community a really desirable location for people to live despite some of the physical, geographic constraints we’re up against.”
According to a conceptual site plan and documents submitted to the city, Aventon intends to build between 330 and 380 apartments at 5400 Old Bradenton Road. The site plan shows more than a dozen residential buildings on the 24.5-acre property, all of which would have a maximum height of three stories, Flanagan said.
For the proposal to move forward, the city must first approve a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning application. Aventon is requesting to rezone the property from its current commercial intensive designation to a residential multifamily classification that permits up to 18 units per acre. Because a 3.3-acre segment on the east side of the property is in the county, the developer is also asking the city to annex that land.
Feedback from three participants at the online community workshop centered on one major point of concern: traffic. Della Burman is a resident of Villa Gardens, a complex with 222 villa units located just south of the kennel club property. She questioned the decision to place the entry and access points to the proposed apartments on Old Bradenton Road, skeptical whether the street could handle the capacity associated with the project and a separate plan for a Circle K to the north.
“Old Bradenton is a two-lane road, and that’s going to increase traffic quite a bit, especially with the proposed gas station,” Burman said.
Resident Jeremy Anderson shared similar trepidations about the prospect of adding cars to Old Bradenton Road, pointing to other multifamily residential properties in the area as reason to be worried about hitting a breaking point.
“I was just there about a week ago trying to turn in — a lot of congestion just going in and out of those,” Anderson said. “If you’re trying to add a 300-unit complex, apartment-style, you’re going to potentially have a lot more occupants per unit than a traditional residential or condo; that would be a concern.”
Flanagan said he understood the line of questioning from neighboring residents, noting his belief the city would likely require a formal traffic study before the project could move forward. Still, he sought to reassure those in attendance at the workshop by stating the apartment complex would likely be less of a strain on the roadway than the dog track was prior to its 2019 closure.
“I think the overall intensity of use will be less than what it was when the dog track was there,” Flanagan said. “You’re not going to have a lot of people going in and coming out all at once; it’s going to probably be more tapered over the course of the day.”
That didn’t quell the concerns of Richard Harris, a resident of the Bayou Oaks neighborhood. He speculated the traffic patterns for the apartment complex would meaningfully differ from that of the kennel club — with the new project producing more trips on Old Bradenton Road.
“Very little of the traffic was from the south, from the city side,” Harris said of the kennel club. “Most of it was from University [Parkway] turning into the park. I am suspicious of your comment that it’s going to be less than the dog track, because … a majority of the people here, maybe, will be working downtown, and they will use Old Bradenton Road.”
Despite the traffic-related inquisitions, both Harris and Burman offered some positive feedback on the design Aventon outlined at the workshop. Flanagan said the development would be similar in scope to the company’s existing portfolio of apartment complexes in the southeast, which includes Bainbridge Palmoré on Cattlemen Road in Sarasota County. Flanagan noted some specific design decisions related to the dynamics of the site, including a larger setback on the south side of the property to create a buffer for existing residences.
“I think your plans are lovely,” Burman said. “I think it’s going to be an upgrade from the dog track, as far as most matters are concerned.”
Burman encouraged the development team to keep an open line of communication with its neighbors as the proposal advances through the city’s review system.
“The concerns we’re having — we’re already residents that live here, and your residents are going to have the same issues,” Burman said. “I think it behooves you [to listen to us], and I think you are listening to us talk about that.”
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