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St. Armands Circle parking garage
Sarasota Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 4 years ago

City approves St. Armands garage project

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The $15.5 million project will also bring the implementation of a paid parking system in St. Armands Circle.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The City Commission authorized up to $17.5 million in bonds Monday for a St. Armands Circle parking garage project expected to cost $15.5 million.

The commission’s action finalizes the funding model for building a 500-space garage at North Adams Drive and Madison Drive. The city will repay the bonds using a combination of paid parking revenue and funds from a special assessment on Circle property owners.

Representatives from the St. Armands Residents Association and St. Armands Circle Association, a merchant group, spoke Monday in support of the project. Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association, said the buy-in from stakeholders showed a strong commitment to improving the area.

She urged the city to follow through on the four years of planning that led to the parking garage proposal.

“This is a project that’s been a long time coming,” Corrigan said.

Before approving the plans, the commission questioned what would happen if paid parking fails to generate the revenue staff expects. The city plans to institute paid parking after the garage is completed in December 2018.

The bond agreement restricts the city from taking any action that would adversely affect parking revenue — which means the city couldn’t just take out the meters at a future date, staff said. If the parking revenue isn’t sufficient for making bond payments, the city is required to take action to increase parking revenues.

If even that fails, the city can use money from its general fund to pay down the bond. Future parking revenue would be used to pay back any money spent from the general fund.

But staff was confident the paid parking system and special assessment would pay for the garage on its own. Parking Manager Mark Lyons pointed to a consultant’s 2016 study that provided the foundation for the paid parking system as a revenue source for the garage project.

“I feel very confident in the numbers they provided for us,” Lyons said.

In addition to the garage, the project will also involve burying power lines and adding signage in the St. Armands area.

The city hopes to begin construction on the garage in spring 2018.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

  • The board accepted consultant Richard Mandell’s report on renovating Bobby Jones Golf Club and directed staff to research potential funding mechanisms and engage the public regarding possible improvements.
  • The commission approved reallocating $2 million in housing funds to support the Sarasota Housing Authority’s plans to build an affordable housing development at Cohen Way and Ninth Street in the Rosemary District.
  • The commission postponed appointing members to its new Tree Advisory Committee in hopes of soliciting more applications.

Video of Monday’s meeting is available on the city’s website.

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