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Sarasota Thursday, Sep. 19, 2019 2 months ago

North Trail property owner plans food truck market

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The city is reviewing a proposal designed to draw more activity to the area near Whitaker Gateway Park.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Michael Halflants has submitted plans to the city for a development he hopes to build at 1400 N. Tamiami Trail. As he waits for the review process to play out, he has come up with a concept that he thinks would put the vacant land to good use.

Halflants submitted an application to the city Sept. 4 asking permission to open a food truck market on the 0.62-acre site. According to the application material, Halflants hopes to allow selected vendors to operate from 9 a.m. to sunset daily.

In explaining the decision to pursue a food truck market, Halflants said the success of The Reserve, a nearby cafe, showed food and drink businesses could do well in the area. Halflants, an architect with the studio Halflants + Pichette, was hopeful the presence of food trucks could draw visitors to the property ahead of the development.

“To bring some activity and some attention to the site is always a good thing, so people can envision what the site could be,” Halflants said.

Halflants does not have vendors lined up yet, but he believes the property lends itself well to food trucks. He pointed to the presence of a large oak tree and stated he plans to add picnic tables beneath it if approved.

Through a spokesman, the city said the process of reviewing an application for an open-air market typically takes around 45 days. Affected property owners near the site have two weeks to appeal after receiving notification.

The proposed development, called Whitaker Lofts, includes 19 residential units and more than 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space in a four-story building. Halflants said he hoped the project and the food truck market could both help revitalize the U.S. 41 corridor.

“The project will quickly help rejuvenate and give a positive sense of identity and place to the North Trail,” the Whitaker Lofts project application states.

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