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Parking study to examine two-garage plan for Circle

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  • | 4:00 a.m. September 24, 2014
  • Longboat Key
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The city of Sarasota is looking further into the possibility of constructing two new public garages on St. Armands Circle as it attempts to address a parking shortage in the area.

Parking Manager Mark Lyons appeared at the Sept. 16 St. Armands Business Improvement District meeting to provide an update on the city’s Circle parking study, on which work began more than a year ago. The study indicated a shortage of roughly 320 spaces existed on the island and pointed to two public lots on Adams Drive as potential sites for a garage.

At a public meeting in April, several St. Armands stakeholders suggested that two garages — built shorter than the proposed individual structures outlined in the study — could be a more appealing option for residents and businesses. At that time, Lyons warned that the cost of constructing two garages could be prohibitive.

Today, Lyons said the city would ask consulting firm Kimley-Horn to revise the study to provide information on what a two-garage plan would look like. Lyons continued to state that cost would be an issue and said paid parking in the area could be considered as an option to fund the project.

With projected construction costs possibly rising as high as $20 million and the annual operation of the garage projected at $200,000, the financial aspect of the project was one of the biggest remaining unanswered questions.

“There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the finances and a lot of strategy on how we would manage it,” Lyons said. “I think we really need to see the analysis on the two garages, and then we can sit down and talk about money.”

BID board members said they didn’t want to get bogged down in details of cost and design yet, but that they wanted to see the project move along relatively quickly.

“I’m more interested in how long it’s going to be between now and the time that we agree to break ground,” said BID Vice Chairman Marty Rappaport. “We’ve been working on this for a long time.”

Lyons added that although funding remains a top concern, there are several routes the city could take to pay for the structure — or structures.

“It’s not a bleak picture,” Lyons said. “It’s just that we have to be smart about it.”



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