Todd Mathes, Benderson's director of development, met with concerned neighbors to discuss the Siesta Promenade project on the corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41.
Mathes brought a rendering to the forum Wednesday evening at the Pine Shores Presbyterian Church Community Center. He asked attendees to look at it and then come talk to him with individual questions, but after pressure from the crowd, he answered questions for the whole audience.
Benderson, one of two firms behind the Mall at University Town Center, initially pitched the project in June to the Development Review Committee and held a neighborhood workshop. The 24-acre development will include a 150-bed hotel, retail and restaurant space and possibly a grocery store. The Pine Shores Estates mobile home park previously occupied the space.
Residents of the area voiced many concerns at Wednesday's meeting about the effect the development will have on traffic near Stickney Point, which is already congested during season peak hours.
Benderson hopes to get Florida Department of Transportation to agree to at least two additional traffic lights at the Promenade entrances on Stickney Point and U.S. 41.
While some attendees were worried about traffic, others were worried about having the development across the street from their house. The project will be surrounded by an 8-foot barrier on top of a 6-foot berm, but there was debate as to whether Benderson was installing a fence or a wall, and whether the wall would also surround the retention pond. Mathes told the community to decide what kind of barrier it wanted and communicate that ideal to Benderson.
Sura Kochman, the leader of the Pine Shores Community Coalition, a group of stakeholders from the neighborhood, Siesta Key and local retailers that formed in response to the Promenade project, did not think the neighborhood’s concerns had really been addressed, despite the communication between parties since the first neighborhood workshop in June.
“(The plan) is still nebulous,” she said. The rendering Mathes brought was no different from the one in June, she said.
Benderson is having another traffic study done to examine November traffic patterns. It will file an application with the county for the development within the next two weeks.
“We can’t wait forever,” Mathes said.