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St. Armands explores music options

Amplified music may be on its way back to St. Armands Circle.

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  • | 1:38 p.m. February 20, 2018
The BID is considering replacing the existing speaker system on St. Armands Circle, installed in the early 2000s.
The BID is considering replacing the existing speaker system on St. Armands Circle, installed in the early 2000s.
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Less than two years after the St. Armands Business Improvement District voted to stop playing amplified music throughout St. Armands Circle, the group is singing a different tune — and examining its options for bringing music back to the shopping district.

Today, the BID discussed the possibility of installing a new speaker system throughout the Circle for playing music. Although the board is taking steps toward issuing a request for proposals from vendors willing to undertake such a project, the BID is undecided about whether it will ultimately proceed with the initiative.

In 2002, the BID spent more than $60,000 to install 122 Bose speakers on St. Armands. In April 2016, the board decided to end the music for several reasons. That included aging equipment: About 60% of the speakers had stopped working, according to St. Armands Circle Association Executive Director Diana Corrigan.

At the time, the BID expressed regret that it couldn’t continue playing music throughout the district. And last month, the board agreed to research the logistics of restoring the music to St. Armands.

At a January meeting, BID Chairman Gavin Meshad hoped the organization might be able to find a simple — and less expensive — solution for providing music throughout the Circle. With early estimates putting the price at replacing the entire sound system at $30,000, Meshad was hesitant to move forward with a project absent strong evidence that demand for music existed.

“I’d hate to spend money on something that isn’t really what the customer is asking for,” Meshad said at today’s meeting. “If it isn’t going to add any value to the customer experience or to the merchant’s sales, then I don’t know.”

Corrigan suggested the St. Armands Circle Association, a merchants group, could send an email to its members to gauge interest in restoring the outdoor speaker system. Even before conducting a survey, though, Corrigan advocated for the benefits of music in a shopping district.

She pointed out that the University Town Center area features piped-in music, and Sarasota’s Downtown Improvement District recently expressed interest in adding speakers throughout the heart of the city.

“There’s psychological studies that have been done — when you’re at the grocery store, why do you think they’re playing a lot of baby boomer music?” Corrigan said. “It puts you in a good mood, and you want to spend. That’s what our competition is doing, and it’s all part of the ambiance.”

BID board member Michael Valentino said there was some disagreement among merchants about whether adding amplified music would be desirable. He suggested there could be an option that would allow for music in front of some businesses, but not others — such as restaurants that play their own music.

The BID ultimately decided to gather more information to determine a potential scope of work for replacing the existing speaker system. Meshad said the board could always opt not to proceed if merchants said they weren’t interested in adding music.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to the BID whether or not we want to fund this,” Meshad said.


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