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Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 3, 2010 7 years ago

Sign ordinance under review

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Faez Khayyata and his wife, Dee Dee, bought Café Galante on St. Armands Circle in December. They would like to put out a larger sign than the one that they currently have advertising their restaurant, but, as second-story tenants, they face stricter sign restrictions than first-floor tenants.

“For us, we have less traffic than we would if the business was on the first floor,” Faez Khayyata said. “We’d like something to attract the eye. If we get busy, so do the six or seven stores next to us.”

At its June 7 meeting, the Sarasota City Commission will discuss changing the ordinance that currently applies to signs in the St. Armands Commercial Tourist (CT) District, along with an ordinance change that would ban plastic, glossy or shiny materials on new awnings in the district, while allowing for minor repairs of existing awnings made with such materials.

In a recent survey of Circle business owners, distributed at the St. Armands Circle Association’s May 18 annual meeting that presented three changes to CT ordinances recommended by the association and St. Armands Business Improvement District (BID), almost all respondents supported the first recommendation amending the sign code to allow second-story tenants to have more prominent signage.

“It’s pretty much unanimous that everyone out here needs signage,” said Scott Macdonald, director of operations at Crab & Fin restaurant.

They also largely supported the recommendation that pertained to the awnings.

“It’s aesthetically beneficial for everyone,” said Diana Corrigan, executive director of the Circle Association.

A third recommendation, which would prohibit new food-related tenants on the first floor based on a Master Plan study that found that St. Armands is currently 50% occupied by restaurants and food-related tenants and is in danger of becoming a “giant food court,” will not go forward to the commission because both business owners and landlords were divided.

“It limited their hands,” Corrigan said. “If they would decide to change to retail, they could never revert back again.”

The changes will go to city staff to study, and staff will return, most likely in December, to make recommendations to the commission.

Jam Session

At a May 17 Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, city officials and St. Armands business people discussed ways to make traffic flow more smoothly on the Circle during season. Suggestions included getting rid of angled parking on side streets, changing stop/yield signs to yield signs, trimming vegetation, constructing a parking garage, using flashing signals and creating a designated lane to Lido Key.

A follow-up meeting will be held in July or August.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].

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