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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 28, 2011 6 years ago

Observer Updates


+ DID could gerrymander new boundaries
As the Downtown Improvement District explores expanding east on Main Street, it will consider drawing its boundary around properties not wanting to be included.

The DID is a special taxing district created in 2008 to fund downtown improvements, such as landscaping, lighting and security.

The tax, which is a maximum of 2 mills, or $200 on $100,000 worth of property, is only levied on commercial properties.

The current boundary runs roughly from Goodrich Avenue west to Gulfstream Avenue and Second Street south to Ringling Boulevard, but the DID board is beginning to discuss enlarging its eastern boundary to U.S. 301.

The idea, according to Chairman Ernie Ritz, is to improve the look of the more barren middle section of Main Street — from Orange Avenue to Links Avenue — with landscaping and bulbouts.

However, because many of the properties in that area are office buildings, it’s not clear whether their owners will see any value in paying the tax.

That’s why board members believe it’s OK to leave them out of the DID.

“I’m OK with gerrymandering,” said Ritz. “If the owners in the 1900 block (of Main Street), which is already very active, don’t want to take part, I’m OK with that.”

The DID’s existing boundaries were also drawn around a few properties that do not pay into the district.

The only requirement is that the DID’s boundaries be contiguous.

+ Garage retail nearly ready for market
It has taken the city longer than originally expected to prepare the retail portion of the Palm Avenue parking garage to sell.

About 11,000 square feet of retail space was created on the ground floor of the garage, which fully opened to the public in January.

In October, city staff estimated the space could be ready to sell in January, however it will take about three more weeks before an invitation to bid is expected to be issued.

Surveys of the space are expected to be complete in the next week or two. Then, an appraisal will be conducted.

The City Commission has instructed the city manager to sell the space for either the $1.9 million cost of construction or the appraised value, whichever is higher.

Commissioners also want the space to be sold as a whole and then let the buyer subdivide it if he wishes. TOP FIVE

The most read stories online last week were:

• Good Friday Stations of the Cross walk held downtown (April 22)
It’s Read Everywhere photo contest
Petition seeks to end homeless feedings (March 31)
Cops Corner Sarasota (April 21)
City Commission prayer under attack (April 18)

See all photos from this week’s events online:
• Brookside Middle School Earth Day (April 21)
Garden Club, Forty Carrots celebrate Arbor Day (April 21)
Junior League Little Black Dress Night (April 21)
Sarasota Chamber Mega Mingle (April 21)
The Oaks Club Easter egg hunt (April 23)
Siesta Key Easter egg hunt (April 23)
Leadership Sarasota County awards luncheon (April 26)

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