It was apparent that the commissioners had their mind made up about the Pineapple Square proposal before the meeting Tuesday night and before any public input had been taken. They also decided there was no need to have the CRA Advisory Board give them any advice.
No advice from the public (except just before a quick vote to accept the Planning Staff recommendation to start a negotiation process with the Isaac Group), and similarly no advice from the CRA Advisory Board.
The commission did take the advice of John Simon that they did not need to run this by the CRA Advisory Board since no TIF dollars were involved. Of course he wants CRA district land (State St parking lot).
Lou Ann Palmer objected strenuously to not taking the advice of the CRA Advisory Board, but commissioners Servian, Shelin and Billyeu were against this.
John Simon also presented his case that competitive forces required quick action with no delay, and even threw in hurricane Katrina as a factor that would drive up construction costs, so the faster he is allowed to start the better.
While Save Our Sarasota does not think Pineapple Square is a bad project, we are concerned about the rapid pace of the approval process. We have submitted a list of questions we think need to be answered about this proposal, but with limited public input opportunities we think these will likely be brushed aside. If the project is truely good for Sarasota, slowing down to consider the full impact and to make sure design and compatabllity issues are addressed, is important to the entire community.