The city of Sarasota’s Downtown Improvement District (DID) is starting to plan its biggest and most expensive project to date.
At its Tuesday, Aug. 23 meeting at City Hall, DID board members began setting the tone for a multimillion dollar project that calls for widening five sections of Main Street sidewalks to create better landscaping and more space for outside restaurant seating.
“We want to know what it will cost to analyze five segments of Main Street,” said DID Operations Manager John Moran, who also wants bidders to come back with multiple streetscape design options for each segment.
The five sections of Main Street the DID wants to widen are:
• From Gulfstream Avenue to the Pineapple Avenue roundabout;
• From the Pineapple Avenue roundabout to Orange Avenue;
• From Orange Avenue to Osprey Avenue;
• From Osprey Avenue to U.S. 301;
• From U.S. 301 to School Avenue.
The goal is to have bids complete by the end of November so the DID board can begin looking at cost options by the end of the year.
The DID wants to widen the sidewalks like the current widened intersection at Main Street and Palm Avenue.
“We have found that wider sidewalks create substantially increased economic activity because of things like increasing outdoor dining,” Moran said.
Changing the streetscape and creating a uniform look for downtown streets is also a key part of the project.
Some of those streetscape changes could include historic markers on top of streetlights, creating brick streets and installing gateways to identify the historic district.
“We want to create more definition to the historic district and the downtown core,” Moran said. “This is an opportunity to create a huge capital improvement to our city.”
City planner Alex Davis Shaw told the board the DID would be using some of its own dollars, which would allow the board to have priority over the project. The DID, however, only has a budget this year of $367,250 and plans to work with city business owners to solicit contributions for the capital improvement project.
Commissioner Terry Turner, who attended the DID meeting, was pleased to hear the DID was moving forward with the project.
“The faster this moves, the better,” Turner said to the board. “The discussion the commission has had about this even extends to Fruitville Road and U.S. 41 connections.”
Bulbout project moving along
The city of Sarasota’s Downtown Improvement District (DID) Main Street bulbout and landscaping project continues to move forward.
At the DID’s Aug. 23 meeting, creating bulbout extensions for the west side of North Palm Avenue was discussed to create a uniform look for the roadway, which already includes bulbouts on the east side of the road.
The North Palm Avenue project, including landscaping, could cost approximately $35,000.
Last year, the DID proposed several areas of dead space on downtown roads that can be converted into extra surface area for cafés.
One example is the French restaurant, C’est La Vie, just south of Orange Avenue. On most mornings and afternoons, its outdoor tables are crowded with customers.
But there is a spot in the road, right next to its tables, which is unused. There’s no driving lane or parking space there.
DID’s goal is for storeowners to help pay for the bulbout and landscaping plan.