Sunday, September 04, 2005

More Pineapple Square Questions

Save Our Sarasota has had conversations with John Simon, the project manager for the Pineapple Square project, city planning staff associated with this project, city commissioners and various community groups and individuals.These conversations have led to a number of questions that we feel must be answered as this significant downtown proposal is considered. This change will alter the character of downtown for years to come. We must be sure this is the direction the community wants to go.

This is the second in a series that comments and asks questions about this proposed project. The first set of questions was posted on Sep 1.

Height, Stepbacks, Arcades: The views of the building show step-backs on Pineapple but not on Lemon. Why?

The concept shown by Mr Simon showed Pineapple Square at 11 stories in height. What is the rational for asking for this added height and how can it be justified? Do we really want to tamper with the new downtown rezone even before it goes into effect?

Would arcades be allowed at this project, which already is very massive? Shade trees would be problematic if arcades are allowed. Giving away air rights above arcades is also problematic.

Would a wind tunnel be created in the walk way through the building?

Traffic: What would be the traffic patterns for people driving to Pineapple Square? From I-75 they would take Fruitville west to downtown. Which street would cars use to access the parking lot and how would this work? Lemon seems to be the natural street to use. This would be problematic. What are the localized traffic implications of this plan? How would people coming to Pineapple Square from either direction on the US 41 access the parking lot?

Is the alley on the northern edge of the building capable of allowing cars to go to and from the parking area while a truck is pulling into or out of the loading space? Would the businesses on Main Street that rely on servicing from this alley still have adequate space? How would the new loading docks and parking affect access to the existing businesses? It appears there would be a major increase in vehicles using this alley. Could all of the uses be handled?

Unique retail: This project would contain a large percentage of chain retail. If uniqueness, character, and quality are lost, downtown Sarasota becomes just another mall. How does this project encourage and enhance Sarasota’s current high percentage of unique and local businesses?

Seasonal economy: Given the current seasonality issues of Sarasota’s economy, would adding more upscale downtown condos and shopping help or hurt the metropolitan area economy? Specifically, would we lose more of the current, local businesses? Would this make it difficult to achieve the retail requirements for the mid section of Main?

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