Sunday, July 31, 2005

Model Behavior

Sarasota has a number of new developments being rushed to the application stage before time runs out on the old zoning code - the one that allows much higher buildings. Complaints were voiced, law suits were filed (and more may be filed) but we seem to be getting close the end of the process.

With Pineapple Square, the Quay project, the Michael Saunders project on Orange, Chris Brown's project on 301, the possible Plaza Verde project and others, we think it is high time to demand models for all downtown projects.

Because of the issues that have arisen from the projects now underway (no setback on Fruitville project, 4 stories of free space given to the developer above the sidewalk at 1350 Main, the "concrete chunk" porte-cochere in the street at 100 Central, the loading dock at Whole Foods that requires use of the sidewalk across the street to back semis into it) we obviously have a hard time visualizing what the completed project will look like and how it will fit into its nearby surroundings. This is exactly what Dale Parks has been complaining about with the CRA Advisory Board. Problems can be corrected early in the design process only if the problem is identified. This is what models do. Many times models are the only technique that can allow identification of a problem.

We would strongly suggest the city require a scale model of each project showing how it will fit with the nearby buildings, streets, sidewalk, alleys, trees, etc. This will give an indication of how the area will "work" once the project is completed. The opportunity for many eyes to view the project and comment on potential problems will be valuable.

We also think it is very important that Sarasota develop a large scale model of the entire downtown including the bayfront. Proposed changes - new development proposals or other changes - would be placed into this setting so everyone can easily visualize what the change will look like.

The proposed Plaza Verdi project is particularly complicated and very difficult to visualize for concept drawings - this offers enormous opportunity for another major screw up unless every tool available is used to evaluate what is being proposed.

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