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Sarasota Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2010 7 years ago

Golden Apple funding denied

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The Downtown Improvement District unanimously voted today to deny the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s request for a $144,000 loan. However, the board said it was committed to help the dinner theater in other ways.

Three weeks ago, the Golden Apple’s owners Robert and Roberta Turoff asked the DID board for assistance because the construction of the Palm Avenue parking garage and Five Points roundabout would take away most of their customer parking.

The Turoffs feared that if they didn’t get a loan for things such as advertising the available parking spots, they would be forced to close permanently.

“Our phone activity has dropped more than 30% since articles about the construction (were published),” said Robert Turoff.

But DID members said their mission does not include giving money, that would amount to more than one-third of its annual budget, to individual businesses.

“We don’t have $144,000 to loan anybody,” said Ernie Ritz, DID vice chairman. “It’s not in our scope to lend money to anybody.”

Two of Turoff’s supporters, Mark Kauffman and John Harshman, countered that the ordinance that created the DID states it is to help new and existing businesses with financial incentives.

But board members said they were more comfortable assisting the Golden Apple in the same way they’re assisting all downtown business, including creating advertising that reminds people that businesses are open during the construction; coordinating valet parking with private lots, such as the one in Five Points Plaza; and assuring that sidewalks remain clean throughout the construction process.

Turoff learned that the loss of parking may not last as long as he anticipated. He was asking for a year’s worth of funding, but road closures associated with the Five Points roundabout are only scheduled to last through July and August. The parking garage is scheduled to be complete in eight months.

Turoff said he was generally pleased with the DID’s decision.

“I think it’s positive,” he said.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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