After its initial pitch in June, Benderson Development plans to file its concept plan in the next two weeks for the hotel and shopping center, known as Siesta Promenade, at the corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41.
The project features a 150-room hotel, either a Marriott or Hilton brand, along with retail shops, restaurants and a grocery store. Although tenants have not been selected, it would be a blend of local and big-box stores, said Todd Mathes, Benderson’s director of development, at the Oct. 29 neighborhood workshop.
“The modern, vibrant buildings will give a feeling of energy. … It’s a great way to communicate to visitors about Sarasota,” Mathes said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”
Benderson is also taking responsibility to upgrade the lift station, located underground on U.S. 41.
But not everyone is as optimistic about the project.
Residents from the Pine Shores neighborhood — the residential area behind the new development — were concerned with the amount of traffic the center would produce in an already congested season, as well as privacy.
A new traffic study should be completed by the end of November. Mathes assured residents that although Benderson would be filing the project concept within the next two weeks, the county would not review the plan until the results of the traffic study were reviewed.
Residents are also concerned that getting two traffic lights — one on U.S. 41 and the other on Stickney going into the development — is not a guarantee, because FDOT has not formally approved them yet.
“Without those lights, it will be a nightmare for the neighborhood,” said Sura Kochman, leader of Pine Shores Neighborhood Alliance, the overarching group representing different stakeholders in the Siesta Promenade project.
Michael Shay, president of the Siesta Key Association, told the Sarasota Observer that SKA’s concerns for Siesta Key are focused on the possible traffic problems on Stickney Point.
But as long as the traffic flow planning is done correctly, SKA doesn’t have a problem with the development, he said.
“Traffic on the street today will serve the shopping center,” Mathes said after the meeting. “We don’t believe we will exacerbate the problem.”
For those concerned about privacy, Mathes said the project is to be surrounded by an 8-foot barrier on top of a 6-foot berm, with 10 feet of landscaping, 5 feet of sidewalk, and 5 feet of grass.
Other stakeholders, such as nearby retailers, have competing concerns. While the neighborhood is insistent that a traffic light on Stickney is vital for residents, retailers are concerned the light will hurt business.
There is only one entrance to the South Bridge Plaza complex, which includes New Balance shoes, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Peltz Shoes. The entrance for people traveling northbound on Stickney is a left turn cut into the median. But with a stoplight placed on Stickney, the median could be closed.
“The tough part is … our entrance will get closed up,” said David Jackson, co-owner of New Balance Shoes.
Jackson isn’t opposed to the project itself, however.
“If the center is built properly we can all benefit — it will bring more people to the area,” he said. “If the red light has a cut-through, then it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Pine Shores neighborhood
Residents are concerned that the development will make traffic even worse during season. They want a stoplight on Stickney Point Road because, without it, turning left out of Glencoe Avenue will be challenging. Also, residents want the project to be walled-in for privacy.
If a red light is placed on Stickney Point Road, there is a possibility the median turn-in to the businesses in the South Bridge Plaza will be filled in, forcing customers to drive down to the light to make a U-turn. It could have a negative effect on business, merchants say.
Siesta Key Association
SKA is concerned that the project will increase traffic congestion. Siesta saw what a misstep could cause: When the no-right-turn-on-red was mandated on Midnight Pass off of Stickney Point Road, traffic was backed up to U.S. 41.