The St. Armands Business Improvement District hopes freestanding public restrooms will finally come to St. Armands Circle by October.
At Monday’s City Commission meeting, the group secured a series of approvals allowing construction to move forward, including an endorsement of a new design to better reflect the character of St. Armands Circle.
The St. Armands BID has budgeted more than $380,000 for design and construction of a facility with three unisex restrooms in the median at John Ringling Boulevard and South Washington Drive. The BID has been working since 2016 to facilitate the construction of public restrooms in the shopping district. At Monday’s meeting, BID representatives reiterated their belief in the importance of the project.
“The No. 1 piece of feedback we receive from visitors is the need for a restroom facility,” BID Operations Manager Brandy Wiesner said.
As the BID board moved through the planning process, the group sought an alternate design from architecture and engineering firm CPH. BID representatives said the new design was a more “traditional” look, with Wiesner stating a city-adopted St. Armands master plan influenced the color palette and the inclusion of archways, columns and a decorative pergola.
“The redesign looks much better and, I think, more appropriate for St. Armands Circle,” Commissioner Hagen Brody said.
As part of an agreement with the BID, the city is committing to covering the maintenance expenses for the restrooms. The city estimated the maintenance would cost $66,670 a year, though staff is still in the process of securing a quote for the services from a third-party contractor.
Elsewhere in the city, another business improvement district is considering its own bathroom project. At Tuesday’s Downtown Improvement District meeting, the group discussed the possibility of creating a public restroom facility at or near the State Street parking garage.
DID Chairman Wayne Ruben brought up the idea as a potential partnership with the Sarasota Farmers Market. Ruben asked city Parking Manager Mark Lyons whether it might be possible to create a public restroom, managed by the market and open only during hours when the market is operating, in the garage.
Lyons said he couldn’t speak definitively on behalf of the city, but he thought there might be an opportunity to consider the addition of public bathrooms. Lyons said a free-standing structure might be more desirable, but he indicated the city could be willing to discuss the topic further.
“I think we’re open to it,” Lyons said.