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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 10 years ago

St. Armands parking garage now on deck

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

St. Armands Circle merchants moved one step closer to checking off the final item on their capital-improvement project wish list Monday when the Sarasota City Commission agreed to look into the feasibility of a parking garage near the Circle’s fire station.

At the commission’s Monday informal workshop, Vice Mayor Terry Turner received support from commissioners to add the feasibility of a multi-story parking garage on the Circle as part of the commission’s two-year goals.

“Merchants want a garage and are willing to pay for it with a special assessment tax,” said Turner, who said it makes sense to have sketches drawn up and see what the project would cost. “If it’s workable, we should do it.”

A multimillion dollar garage could be funded by a combination of merchant special-assessment taxes and parking-meter revenues.

The item was added to City Manager Bob Bartolotta’s list. A final list of two-year goals will be brought back before commissioners to review and approve in January.

Merchants are also hoping exposed power lines can be buried as a part of the project.

St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District (BID) Chairman Marty Rappaport was pleased to hear the news at the BID’s Board of Directors meeting Tuesday.

“It’s the last major project for the Circle, and once it’s built, it will satisfy the residents, Circle merchants and the entire Sarasota community as a whole,” Rappaport said. “I’m pleased to see the city moving in this direction.”

Rappaport said the BID wants to begin planning for the garage next year.

“Once it’s complete, we would be able to implement a valet service that’s free for customers and be in position to support the advertising and promotion St. Armands deserves,” Rappaport said.

Also at the BID meeting, the board of directors noted there are no vacancies on the Circle; what’s vacant is under contract for stores that can’t be announced yet.

“What we have been able to do in a terrible economy with not a lot of money over the last nine years is amazing,” Rappaport said. “It’s beneficial to both St. Armands and downtown Sarasota as a whole to keep moving forward with the garage project.”

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