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St. Armands Circle parking
Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 6 years ago

St. Armands zeroes in on garage tax plan

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As the city pursues a potential parking garage on St. Armands, a consultant has recommended a proportionate payment scheme for area property owners.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The city is continuing its pursuit of a potential parking garage serving St. Armands Circle, and a consultant has outlined a plan to assign a segment of the cost to property owners in the commercial tourist district.

For more than 20 years, leaders on St. Armands Circle have called for a garage to address a parking shortage in the area. Landowners, merchants and residents have all offered their support for the most recent effort to construct a garage along North Adams Drive, but it remains to be seen how property owners will respond to the proposed payment scheme.

The city is still reviewing the final report from consulting firm Burton and Associates before sharing it with St. Armands stakeholders. If the city proceeds with plans for a garage, it would likely create a special assessment district on the Circle to pay for a portion of the construction.

Over the 20-year lifespan of an assessment district, property owners would contribute $273,000 annually to the city. Burton and Associates recommends a two-tier fee for proportionally assessing each property. One part would use a property’s distance from the garage, while the second would be determined by a property’s size and type.

In October, St. Armands Business Improvement District Co-Chairman Gavin Meshad asked what would happen if a business use changed — from, say, a retail shop to a restaurant. If the special assessment district were created, it would be possible to revisit the calculations if significant changes occurred, according to city Finance Director John Lege.

Both staff and the consultant think it’s unlikely business uses will see much substantial change.

“Once a parcel is a restaurant, there’s a significant investment there,” Lege said. “And the use between whether it’s a clothing store or a shoe store doesn’t matter as much for the number of trips generated.”

Lege said the City Commission would likely discuss plans for the garage this spring. The total cost of a garage is estimated at $11.5 million, with paid parking along the Circle mentioned as another possible funding source.

Staff is also conducting an analysis to get a more up-to-date evaluation of how the garage would serve the Circle’s needs.

“It’s a work in progress,” said BID Co-Chairman Marty Rappaport. “We’re still waiting for studies to come in so we can proceed.”

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