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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013 4 years ago

Development could cost the city


A draft traffic study shows a proposed sale of 11 acres of city-owned land to Benderson Development Co. could come with a $15.4 million cost to the city.

The draft study, which is required as the next step in the process for the development, concluded the busy intersection at Fruitville and Beneva roads does not currently meet the city’s adopted level of service. Four additional lanes would be required to handle congestion if the city allows Benderson to build its proposed retail development at the intersection.

The consultant-conducted study the city received April 12 concludes that $17.6 million in total roadway improvements at the intersection would be necessary to accommodate the development. That amount, of which Benderson would have to pay about $2.2 million, is based on a state proportionate share formula. The city’s share for the improvements would be

$15.4 million, or 77% of the cost of improvements.

The draft traffic study also concluded the intersection is failing even without the proposed development.

“Analysis concludes that the intersection at Fruitville and Beneva roads does not meet the city’s adopted level of service standards and requires improvements if this development were to be approved,” reads the traffic-study summary submitted to city planners.

Needed improvements include construction of:
• Additional northbound through lane (for a total of three) on Beneva Road;
• Additional southbound through lane (for a total of three) on Beneva Road;
• Additional eastbound through lane (for a total of four) on Fruitville Road;
• Additional westbound through lane (for a total of four) on Fruitville Road;
• Additional eastbound to southbound right-turn lane (for a total of one) on Fruitville Road.

The summary also noted Benderson is currently expected to pay $622,490 in roadway impact fees. That amount might be reduced because the city participates in the county’s current program to reduce roadway impact fees.

The traffic study was based on an 110,000-square-foot retail development, the maximum size of commercial development that Benderson representatives believed they would construct on the site. Now, Benderson planners will be determining what size smaller project “makes sense” on the parcel.

Larry Fineberg, senior vice president with Benderson, said he was surprised by the study’s conclusions and that the company is working on drafting a smaller-scale project that would require fewer roadway improvements.

“We would never expect the city to come up with that kind of off-site cost,” Fineberg said.

Although Mayor Suzanne Atwell has not yet seen the report, she said she plans to read the study.

“We were waiting for the traffic study to come, and we need to take a close look at this,” said Atwell. On some level, this changes things.”

In August, commissioners approved a contract to sell the highly visible parcel to Benderson for $1.45 million.The contract with Benderson, however, is not final, because it is contingent on three changes: a lengthy Comprehensive Plan amendment; a rezone from government zoning to commercial general district; and de-designating the space a city park so it can be developed.

Residents opposed to the Benderson development on the city-park space say the traffic study confirms concerns they’ve had about the traffic impacts of the project.

“I think this might put the brakes on (the project),” said Renee Gluvna, a Glen Oaks resident, about the traffic study. “But we don’t want to just sit back and say it won’t happen. We are continuing to get signatures (on the petition).”

Fineberg said the company is also considering plans to incorporate a public park area along the existing bike and walking path on the property.

“We are trying to create a nice project that will generate revenue for the city and improve the surrounding properties,” Fineberg said. “They are signing petitions without seeing the project we plan to put there.”


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