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City approves Payne Park Village plans

A developer is moving ahead with a scaled-back vision for the downtown-adjacent property, planning to build 135 single-family residential units.

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  • | 1:09 p.m. May 16, 2017
  • Sarasota
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After more than a decade of controversy surrounding a 9.6-acre School Avenue property, residents and officials offered strong support for a proposed development on the site at Monday’s City Commission meeting.

The commission unanimously approved changes to the development agreement for Payne Park Village. David Weekley Homes intends to build a 135-unit single-family housing project on School Avenue, scaling back the original vision for a 238-unit mixed-use project on the land.

Residents from the Alta Vista neighborhood shared their endorsement for the developer’s plans, saying the proposal fit the scale of the surrounding area.

“Tonight represents closure for 10 years of endeavor by neighborhoods, both organized and unorganized, to fight for something that is reasonable in their neighborhood,” said Stan Zimmerman, former president of the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association.

In 2005, previous property owner Ron Burks pitched a project with seven-story buildings housing 450 condominiums. By 2009, thanks to resident opposition, his proposal shrunk to 238 townhomes in four-story buildings, plus retail, office and hotel space. Now, the 135 housing units will range from three to four stories.

The changes approved Monday largely eliminate the non-residential plans for the property. However, David Weekley Homes only plans to purchase and develop an 8.7-acre parcel of the larger property. The remaining .87-acre parcel is still zoned for either 62,000 square feet of office street or a 100-room hotel and 4,000-square-foot restaurant.

Martin Frame, land acquisition manager for David Weekley Homes, said the developer thought the smaller scale of the company’s proposal would benefit all parties involved. The company hopes to break ground before the end of the year. The residential units, a mix of attached and detached housing, will be priced between $300,000 and more than $500,000, Frame said.

Commissioner Hagen Brody asked the developer if they had explored the possibility of building more affordable housing into the project. Frame said the original multi-family proposal would have come with increased building expenses and would not have fit with the nearby single-family neighborhoods.

The developer attempted to split the difference between mirroring the project’s surroundings and bringing down the price of the homes.

“We tried to support affordability by getting as much density as we can with the balance of what's good for the neighborhood,” Frame said.


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