The developer expressed hope that increased residential activity would be beneficial for the area on the northern boundary of the Rosemary District.
The City Commission approved a four-story, 157-unit apartment project on 10th Street that will be the first development to take use a new zoning classification that allows higher density in exchange for incorporating affordable housing.
On Tuesday, the commission voted 5-0 and 4-1 to approve a rezoning, site plan and street vacation application for Luxe on Tenth, a development located at 1313 10th St. The 3.15-acre site runs from Cocoanut Avenue to Florida Avenue on the north side of 10th Street.
The land will now be zoned Residential Multiple Family 7, the highest density land use category permitted outside of downtown. The city created the RMF-7 zone in 2020 as part of a package of policies designed to facilitate the production of more affordable housing. Developers can increase the maximum density from 25 to 50 units per acre if 25% of the bonus units in a project are designated as affordable for at least 30 years.
For Luxe on Tenth to meet that standard, developer Capital Investment Group would be required to provide 20 affordable units. Representatives for the developer said they intended to exceed that requirement, with the final plan providing 47 units designated as affordable.
“We’re excited about the ability to bring affordability to that area and also clean up that area, as it’s sat vacant for quite a while,” said Christian Dial, Capital Investment Group’s vice president of development.
Neighboring property owner Bill Partridge spoke in favor of the proposal, expressing hope that an influx of residential activity would discourage illicit behavior he said was happening around the project site.
“Let’s do something good for Sarasota,” Partridge said. “Let’s move the lawlessness out of there and have a place where more residents can live downtown.”
One member of the public raised a point of contention with the plans at Tuesday’s hearing. Amanda Gilliland, a resident of the Central Cocoanut neighborhood, said she welcomed higher-density development, but she took issue with the placement of an access point to the apartment complex on Cocoanut Avenue. She noted that driveway required drivers to cut through a bike lane on Cocoanut, which she said was the primary route for cyclists to travel from some north Sarasota neighborhoods to downtown.
“I would really like to see a little more consideration for all the connectivity we’re trying to do in neighborhoods,” Gilliland said.
Members of the project team said they felt the design of the access point would allow motorists to stop and avoid any potential conflict with cyclists, volunteering to add cautionary signs for drivers leaving the site. Chris Gallagher, a partner with Hoyt Architects who worked on the project, said an access point to a parking garage is not incongruous with a street that’s friendly for pedestrians and cyclists, stating the city’s largest downtown public parking garages are located on streets designed for walkability.
“I think there’s this image that cars are going to be coming in and out of this thing all day long, and they don’t,” Gallagher said.
During the developer’s presentation to the commission, Dial shared that he felt the city’s review process for proposed projects was challenging to navigate for parties interested in building both affordable and market-rate housing. Dial said Luxe on Tenth began going through that review process nearly two years ago in November 2019.
“It’s not a walk in the park doing development in Sarasota,” Dial said.
Commissioners Erik Arroyo and Hagen Brody said they felt it was important for the city to take that input into consideration. Arroyo asked his fellow commissioners to consider what role they felt the board should play in evaluating project applications, questioning whether developers should be subject to a series of time- and cost-intensive public hearings and requests to alter code-compliant plans during the final stages of the review process.
“Do we want to have these hurdles?” Arroyo said.
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