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Vengroff affordable apartment project moves ahead

A proposed 393-unit apartment complex on Fruitville Road cleared another hurdle today, as the Planning Board endorsed a change that could lead to more residential units on the site.

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  • | 8:21 p.m. March 9, 2016
Harvey Vengroff has pushed the city to approve his plans for a 393-unit affordable housing complex.
Harvey Vengroff has pushed the city to approve his plans for a 393-unit affordable housing complex.
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Harvey Vengroff’s plans for affordable apartments on Fruitville Road took another step forward today, as the city Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of a proposed comprehensive plan amendment associated with the project.

Vengroff plans to construct a six-story building with 393 residential units at 2211 Fruitville Road. In the process, he is seeking several changes to existing city regulations on the nearly eight-acre site.

The comprehensive plan amendment is necessary to achieve the desired density on the project. Vengroff said the current Urban Edge classification, which allows for 25 residential units per acre, would prevent him from economically constructing affordable apartments. The new classification of Downtown Core would allow for 50 unites per acre.

Vengroff, backed by significant public support at the meeting, argued the project would address the significant lack of affordable housing available within the city currently.

“There’s an awful lot of people that are good people that we could help,” Vengroff said. 

The Planning Board agreed, echoing staff’s conclusion that the comprehensive plan changes are consistent with the goals outlined in the city code.

“To me, nobody has come here — except for you — to offer anything like this to the people of Sarasota that’s desperately needed,” Planning Board member Vald Svekis said. “I think we need to be creative and work with this.”

The proposed apartments would range from 350 to 842 square feet. The estimates for rent range between $650 and $950 per month.

The Planning Board approval came with several site-specific conditions. The apartment complex would include a car-sharing service, similar to Zipcar, for resident use only. An existing call center on the property would be shut down, and a maximum height of six stories would be enforced on the buildings on the property. Additional regulations on apartment size are also factored into the amendment.

The proposal will now head to the City Commission for consideration. A supermajority vote of at least four commissioners is necessary for the comprehensive plan amendment to pass.

Further approval of a rezone, site plan and other exceptions to the code would also be necessary for the project to come to fruition. Although current regulations would require 404 parking spaces, the proposed plans call for 242 spaces, an aspect not incorporated into the Planning Board’s decision.


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