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Sarasota Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2021 1 year ago

Art Ovation rooftop draws continued scrutiny

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Following resident complaints, the city is working to enforce capacity limits and is prepared to take legal action if necessary.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Events on the rooftop of the Art Ovation hotel have exceeded capacity by as much as three or four times the established limit, City Manager Marlon Brown said in an email to commissioners last month.

The bar atop the Palm Avenue hotel has been the subject of numerous complaints from nearby residents who say it’s a source of excessive noise that persists into the early morning hours. The complaints have been voluminous enough to draw the attention of city officials, who have discussed the matter at City Commission meetings and have investigated regulatory options for addressing the issues.

In January, the city sent a letter to hotel representatives alerting them of the problems and requesting information on bar operations to see if the property was in compliance with the city’s zoning rules. Issues at the property persisted, triggering more resident complains. On Feb. 12, the Sarasota Police Department cited the property for violating the city’s noise ordinance.

On Feb. 26, Brown informed the commission that staff verified the capacity of the rooftop was 98 people. Brown said events at the bar attracted more than 300 visitors. The Sarasota Police Department has engaged with the Sarasota County Fire Department to respond to future incidents if attendance at the property exceeds capacity. The city did not make an official available for an interview regarding the status of the hotel.

In his email to commissioners, Brown said he’s been in contact with a representative for the hotel, who indicated the property was working to replace its events manager. The hotel is also working with a sound engineer to better manage noise levels.

“He further stressed that they do wish to be good neighbors,” Brown said.

In their correspondence with the city, hotel representatives have stated their belief that they are operating in compliance with the city’s regulations. The hotel has also questioned the validity of the occupancy limit. On Feb. 26, co-owner Edward Abbo said the hotel believed the occupancy calculations failed to account for many areas on the rooftop, including the cabana and bar area. Abbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In response to Abbo’s message, Brown directed the hotel to take up any potential issues with the fire department, which conducts the annual inspections that produced the capacity number.

“We will continue to enforce the capacity issue and the sound violations as necessary,” Brown wrote.

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