Despite concerns about costs, a St. Armands group is pushing forward with its planned restroom project.
After a lengthy campaign persuaded the city of Sarasota to support the placement of two free-standing public restrooms on St. Armands Circle medians, the group behind the proposal began to wonder whether there was a better option available.
At a January meeting of the St. Armands Business Improvement District meeting, the group heard an update on the estimated costs associated with building bathrooms on John Ringling Boulevard and South Boulevard of the Presidents. According to information provided by architect Jonathan Parks with Solstice Planning and Architecture, the latest overall estimate pegged the project at an expense of $646,000.
During that meeting, members of the BID discussed alternatives to building new free-standing restrooms. Specifically, the group examined the possibility of buying or leasing existing space around the Circle to convert into a public bathroom facility.
Ultimately, however, the board offered a commitment to the original restroom concept, approving the commencement of work on advanced designs for the stand-alone structures. Parks estimated the cost for this phase of the project at $91,777.
Based on the research the BID conducted, board members suggested finding a suitable existing St. Armands property was unlikely to be cost effective. Although the group did not rule out the possibility of continuing to explore its options, there was no desire to halt the work on the restroom project.
“Jonathan’s done a great job of designing something that’s really going to be enhancing,” board member Mindy Kauffman said.
Parks said he would continue to work with St. Armands stakeholders and city staff as plans for the restrooms advance. He said it would likely take more than two months to produce the more detailed construction documents for eventual permitting.
The BID plans to hold a workshop this month to continue its conversation about the shopping district’s bathroom needs. The City Commission offered a preliminary endorsement of the restroom project in September.