Monday, January 09, 2006

Unconditional Surrender

Friday's SHT editorial compares the height of the sculpture "Unconditional Surrender" to the height of the hi-rise buildings being built in downtown Sarasota. The point is that there is a lot of discussion about the height of the sculpture but not much about the height of the buildings.

The editorial says:

Sarasotans ....... should look up -- way up -- to a larger aesthetic argument looming on the horizon: the spate of lofty buildings proposed or already under way in the downtown. Far more massive and up to six times taller than "Unconditional Surrender," these developments will greatly impact the visual environment.

To be sure, big buildings aren't unexpected in a downtown core. But Sarasotans have repeatedly expressed a desire for a human-scale city that, above all, won't become "another Fort Lauderdale."

To avoid that wretched comparison, residents will have to fight for smart designs that protect what Southwest Florida is all about: sunlight, fresh air, creativity, and a laid-back grace that just says no to concrete canyons.

These principles matter, whether the subject is a work of art or a new residential tower. They help define character -- a quality as important to a city as it is to a human being. Without it, Sarasota won't improve over time; it will simply mutate into a monstrosity.

We agree with the assessment; Sarasota has always been about character and sense of place. Somehow we are morphing into a generic city of hi-rises with limited views of sky, land and water. The views that we are seeing are concrete canyons.

Why has Sarasota unconditionally surrendered to the lure of big dollars, big buildings and big development? We know there is much sentiment for retaining our character, sense of place and human scale. The last few months have been a mad scramble by the developers to get a place at the table of 18 story developments with little regard for the character of our city.

Our commissioners know the sentiment of the citizens, yet they continue down the road of the concrete canyon. Apparently they have surrendered.

Save Our Sarasota has not surrendered. We will continue to tell our story; a story of Sarasota's rapidly disappearing charm, loss of signature buildings and places, giveaways of public space, and the poor design considerations that have benefited the developers at the expense of the public. We believe that the commissioners need to be held accountable for the dramatic changes that have occurred in Sarasota.

We will continue to "fight for smart designs that protect what Southwest Florida is all about: sunlight, fresh air, creativity, and a laid-back grace that just says no to concrete canyons."


Anonymous said...

Keep up the fight! It is amazing that we citizens elect the commissioners who profess to be advocates for neighborhoods and shortly after their election, they unconditionally surrender their integrity on behalf of bad developments and poor design. Of course, we citizens cannot afford the high priced planners that the real estate speculators pay to engage in the daily schmooze of city staff and our elected representatives.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it seems we are loosing the fight you speak of, and the revolving door for the developers at city hall continues to spin. Do the Commissioiners even listen to their constituents anymore, or have they drank the Kool Aid special interests seem to be distributing?

Anonymous said...

Downtown is a city not a residential neighborhood! Duh!

Anonymous said...

The reason for the height restriction is well planned out. Get as many as not so tall recidential towers on front, giving them water views, and then higher towers can be built behind them; whithout this restriction, downtown development would come to an end. A good example of this will be Fort Myers, where they approved over ten 32 stories high-rises, right on the edge og the city, once does are built, no one will want to build behind it. Sarasota in the other hand will not face that problem. Downtown Sarasota has a bright future, though it may seen as if you and your group are saving Sarasota, the reality is clear, Downtown Sarasota will be as wealthy and well developed as Sarasota County. This are facts! I know people in higher places.

Anonymous said...

The early stages of growth may cause environmental damage, but as the economy becomes richer society also becomes less polluted.

Sarasota condo boom, which may bring another 10,000 residents to its Center City by 2010, will continue, and I also know for a fact that tree developments are on hold, due to negociations in reference to the height. Lets face it... If it does not happen this year, it will happen the next. As the you mention before. Growth can't be stpped.

Victoriano said...

I live in Sarasota and I welcome high-rises to the city.