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Sarasota Friday, Aug. 27, 2010 7 years ago

Pineapple Square to speed up timeline

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Pineapple Square developer John Simon is ready to put things in motion.

The downtown mulit-use development has an agreement with the city that gives it until 2013 to begin building its second phase at Lemon Avenue and Pineapple Avenue.

“It’s in our best interest to build sooner,” Simon said.

Pineapple Square's current plan requires the developer to build 157 condos with about 85,000 square feet of retail space at the location.

But Simon is seeking flexibility to respond to market demands and economic realities. He said he’s receiving great interest from major hotel chains interested in being part of Pineapple Square.

So Simon has proposed giving back to the city control of the State Street parking lot, and in return, he would be able to change the configuration of phase two to possibly include a hotel and change the number of condos and amount of commercial space.

A key part of that agreement would be that Pineapple Square would be able to make those changes only through City Hall administration and could avoid public workshops and Development Review Committee, Planning Board and City Commission meetings.

“I had four (City Commission) votes and support of the neighborhood, and it still took two-and-a-half years (to get approval),” Simon said.

From the city’s perspective, obtaining control of the State Street parking lot could provide economic incentive, although a significant amount of money would have to be spent first. According to the original agreement with Pineapple Square, the city was required to build 350 parking spaces on State Street and make periodic deposits of cash to fund it. About $3 million already was reserved, and another $1 million had to be added by 2013.

Under the new agreement, that money would be released to the city.

The original agreement also called for the city to pay Pineapple Square $1 million once the garage was complete.

The city’s parking department cited the ceding of control of the State Street lot as one of the factors that led to its budget shortfall because those parking spaces had been metered.

Sarasota’s master plan calls for a parking garage on State Street, and the city would be able to build its own garage there just as it is doing on Palm Avenue.

Although Pineapple Square would have no rights to State Street parking, Simon said it is possible the development would include a walkway that connects a city parking garage to Pineapple Square’s parking garage in its phase-two building.

Phase three was going to include a tower on State Street, but Simon is giving up those plans because the economy doesn’t support it at this time, he said.

“It was a hard decision,” he said. “But we have to be responsive to the marketplace and the economic times.”

Simon estimates the cost of phase two to be in the $60 million to $70 million range.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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