St. Armands Circle leaders are optimistic work will begin within the next few months on a public bathroom project that’s been in the planning stages for more than two years.
The city’s Board of Adjustment on June 24 approved a variance request to allow construction of a habitable space within the floodplain. Plans call for the construction of a 560-square-foot structure with three restrooms in the median along John Ringling Boulevard near Washington Drive.
The project is funded by the St. Armands Business Improvement District, a taxing body for Circle property owners. The BID has budgeted more than $380,000 for the project, which St. Armands businesses said is a response to public demand.
After the city granted the variance, the project is now set to go out to bid for a contractor. At a June 10 BID meeting, Operations Manager Brandy Wiesner said construction could take place between November and March.
Wiesner asked the BID board to affirm it is still interested in the project even if work has to take place during season. Board Member Gavin Meshad questioned whether the restrooms should remain a priority considering the circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created.
“If I’m a struggling business, do I want to see $300,000, $400,000 being directed to a restroom while I’m trying to stay alive?” he said.
Diana Corrigan, the executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association, said the leadership of the merchants group was still supportive of moving forward.
“They said, ‘Absolutely, go through with it,’” Corrigan said. “They felt it would be minimal disruption. … They feel right now, everybody needs to see this happen. It’s something everybody has wanted.”