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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010 10 years ago

Road closure could hurt businesses

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The construction of a new CVS drug store in Osprey has set off a chain of events that could spell trouble for its neighbors.

The store is being built at the Southbay Shopping Center at Tamiami Trail and Blackburn Point Road.

Businesses in the shopping center and residents in the Southbay subdivision, which is immediately west of the shopping center, are concerned about a road that will be closed permanently because of the new store.

“It’s going to affect business,” said one storeowner who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the shopping-center management.

To comply with county codes, CVS had to build a stormwater pond. To make room for the stormwater pond, parking spaces had to be eliminated. To comply with county parking requirements, the shopping center had to eliminate greenspace to add more parking. And to comply with county greenspace requirements, the shopping center had to add greenspace elsewhere.

The road is really a private driveway that the shopping center owns.

The company that owns the shopping center, Ramco Gershenson, chose to add that greenspace in the rear of the building. That happens to be where the roadway in question, Seafarer Drive, is located. The road connected the Southbay community to the shopping-center parking lot.

For years, Southbay residents have used Seafarer Drive as a shortcut to get in and out of their development.

“I now have to take a different route,” said resident Dan Kriwitisky. “It’s now going to be less convenient to shop there.”

And that’s what scares storeowners.

“It’s stops people coming from Southbay,” said the anonymous business owner. “That’s where many of my customers come from.”

Both business owners and residents say the shopping-center owners never informed them that Seafarer Drive was going to close. Their only notification was seeing the torn up asphalt last week.

Kriwitsky said the owners told him that the county forced them to close the road.

But Jim O’Donnell, a county land-development official, said the shopping center could have chosen to put the additional greenspace anywhere, but it chose to place it where Seafarer Drive sat.

To complicate matters, the construction crews ripped up too much of the road. They didn’t know that part of the road was on an easement that the Southbay subdivision owned. That part leads to the community’s irrigation pump house.

The county had to stop the work, and now the shopping center owners are trying to decide how to rectify the error.

O’Donnell said a shell driveway may be constructed to keep access to the pump house.

Calls placed to Ramco Gershenson were not returned.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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