Thursday, January 26, 2006

Modeling Sarasota

With all the discussion about arcades, the rapid change of downtown (we haven’t seen anything yet - wait until the proposed buildings get built), Pineapple Square, etc., it is apparent that people are all looking at our changing town from a different point of view. Some people have moved here from large cities (New York, Boston...) and are comfortable with big buildings and traffic. Others have come from smaller towns or have lived in Sarasota for a very long time. It is difficult to visualize the proposed changes and harder yet to relate to your own past experience.

We have suggested before and will suggest again that the use of models will surely help in visualizing what changes are proposed. Models of new proposed buildings, in the context of the block (or several blocks) where they will be located, will help everyone visualize what is being proposed.

Several people have criticized the rendition we presented of a Main St filled with arcades. This was the best graphic rendition we could produce. A model would have been much better. We also find it interesting that while some criticized our rendition (notably Bruce Franklin), no one produced a different version. The point of the rendition was to give everyone a visual representation of what arcades could look like in the context of Main St. We would like to see some else’s version.

Models need not be expensive to enable everyone to see what is proposed. A visit to Carl Abbott’s web site (current projects) will show some models that give a very good three dimensional view of the proposed project. They show the height and volume; and when placed in context with surrounding buildings, they can show the proposed building in a manner that is easily understood.

We strongly suggest that Sarasota require models showing all proposed new buildings in relationship to the buildings in the nearby blocks. Using a standard scale for the models would make all comparable.

We can't help with making the proposed changes likeable. This probably relates more to individual preference and experience.

We would also like to say that our view point is from the perspective of one that is not involved financially with Sarasota's development. We understand that development is a significant part of the local economy, but we also know that the residents that live here deserve to be a singnificant force in determining what kind of city they wish Sarasota to be and what kind of changes will be allowed. Those involved financially with development will understandably have a different view of proposed development regulations than those not involved financially.

Clear views of the proposed changes and open, honest discussion with a strong dose of listening and trying to understand an opposing point of view will go a long way in building a strong community. All of us can agree that the most important thing is that we have a strong and vibrant community. Buildings won't do that for us. Diversity, discussion, listening and trying to understand a neighbor's point of view will build a strong community.

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