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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 8 years ago

DID considers bond for future projects

by: Robin Roy City Editor

With about $150,000 to devote to capital-improvement projects, it would take a number of years for the Downtown Improvement District to complete a large-scale project in Sarasota.

One of the men behind the creation of the DID believes he has the answer — a $1 million to $3 million bond.

John Moran, who helped sell the idea of the DID to the City Commission, said the property owners who fund the DID with tax dollars expressed the desire to transform downtown from good to “can’t miss.”

“You aren’t going to get ‘can’t miss’ unless you do 20 phases of $150,000,” he said.

Moran referenced Golden Gate Point neighborhood’s project it recently completed with a 20-year, $3.9 million bond. The project included bricking the entire street, creating sidewalks and installing new lighting and landscaping.

“If they can do it, can the DID do it?” Moran asked.

Through his research, Moran discovered that the DID would have to pay $70,000 in interest annually for each $1 million borrowed on a 20-year term.

One idea Moran has is a Golden Gate Point-type project on Main Street between Five Points and Gulfstream Avenue, with brick streets and improved landscaping.

“It could be phase one of (improvements to) the entire historic district,” Moran said.
Earlier this year, the city was awarded historic-district status for the section of Main Street from Orange Avenue to Gulfstream Avenue.

Moran suggested an aggressive timetable for such a project, tying it into the construction of the Five Points roundabout and intersection improvements at Main Street and Palm Avenue, which is set to go to bid in January, to save time and money. Main Street will most likely be closed during that construction.

DID board members liked the idea of a bond, but felt a month was not a realistic timeframe.

“I like (the bond idea),” said DID Chairman Larry Fineberg. “It’s something I can get behind. But I don’t like rushing it or tying it to another project.”

DID board members agreed to begin discussing the idea of initiating a bond, but said that it might be at least a year before it would implement one.

Moran believes that whenever the DID is ready, a $1 million bond is essential to achieving its goal of transforming downtown Sarasota.

“You can’t go from good to ‘can’t miss’ with six-figure numbers,” Moran said.

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