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Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 2 years ago

City rejects downtown gateway sign proposal

Uninterested in a plan favored by a downtown group, officials want to explore alternative placemaking solutions.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Despite years of advocacy from the Downtown Improvement District, the City Commission isn’t interested in installing a gateway sign marking an entry point to downtown near the intersection of Main Street and U.S. 41.

Representatives for the DID appeared at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting asking for the board’s permission to advance designs for a potential gateway sign extending over the roadway on Main Street. In a 3-2 vote, the commission rejected the project.

The proposal drew criticism from city staff, who expressed concern an entry sign could feel like artificial placemaking and ignore other entrances into the downtown area. DID board members and other supporters of the proposal believed the sign would help ensure visitors knew where downtown Sarasota was.

Two commissioners, Liz Alpert and Shelli Freeland Eddie, were open to further consideration.

“I don’t see anything wrong with having a gateway entrance to downtown — which doesn’t preclude doing other things at other entrances,” Alpert said.

But a majority of the commission didn’t want the DID to spend additional time and money on a project they didn’t see as a good fit. Commissioner Hagen Brody said he thought the sign extending over the road was tacky and said the city could find an alternative solutions for welcoming visitors to downtown.

“I just think there’s more tactful ways to do this,” Brody said.

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