- June 8, 2016
From security system companies to gas stations, the city has presented the owners of the Ringling Shopping Center with an exhaustive list of acceptable uses for the property under the current zoning.
The list was developed as part of the city’s response to a Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act claim, in which the property owners allege the 2013 rejection of a proposed Walmart devalued the site by $8.4 million dollars. City Attorney Robert Fournier has dismissed the claim, stating that the Walmart was never permitted under the existing zoning code.
Although the city has expressed an interest in rezoning the property to encourage the revitalization of a nearly dormant parcel, Fournier wanted to respond to claims made by the owners that the land would be difficult to use under current regulations. Today, along with a formal response to the claim offering a potential rezone, Fournier detailed what, exactly, could go on the shopping center land today.
Fournier was careful to be as comprehensive as possible in developing the list. Art galleries, framing shops and stores that sell art, crafts or supplies used for arts or crafts constitute three separate categories. Shoe stores, shoe repair shops and sporting goods stores — excepting those that sell boats — also get their own entries. In the end, a total of 77 acceptable uses for the property are detailed.
Likewise, the city has crafted a list of acceptable uses were the zoning changed from Commercial Shopping Center – Neighborhood to Downtown Edge and Downtown Neighborhood Edge, as is being proposed. Some of the existing permitted uses would come with more regulations under new zoning, and the property owners would no longer be able to build a cemetery or mausoleum on the land. Overall, though, most of the acceptable uses would remain acceptable.
There are also 13 additional permitted uses under DTE and DTNE, according to the list. Those uses include theaters, hotels and residential units. Because the new zoning has a broader definition of acceptable retail uses, the property owners would also be able to build a department store like Walmart, though the design standards would prevent a standard big box store layout.
The property owners now have the option of accepting the city’s settlement offer or denying it and continuing with their legal action. Louis Doyle, one of the property owners, said in a recent interview with the Sarasota Observer that he was waiting to get this formal response from the city before deciding how to proceed.
Read the city's full list of acceptable uses under the current zoning and with the potential rezone:
Permitted Ringling Shopping Center uses — present
Permitted Ringling Shopping Center uses — proposed