Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Decision on Pineapple Square?

The decision facing City Commissioners is whether the cost of city contributions that John Simon wants from the city is worth it. This will be discussed at the next commission meeting.

What Simon and Pineapple Square want is the State St parking lot that has been appraised at $8,000,000, additional funding of $7,600,000 (TIF) to build 350 parking spaces within the Pineapple Square complex and that section of State St between Lemon and Pineapple that is valued at about $2,250,000 (assumes the same sq ft value as the State St parking lot).

What the city will get in return would be an additional 199 parking spaces (there are 137 existing spaces at the State St lot and 14 on street spaces that would be lost).

This means that the city would contribute almost $18,000,000 and receive 199 additional parking spaces downtown. These spaces would be inside the Pineapple Square complex.

It is very difficult, if not impossible to justify this contribution.

While added retail shopping would be nice to have downtown, this is not one of our high priority needs.

Sarasota needs affordable housing. The State St lot could be used for affordable housing as well as additional parking.

Sarasota also needs to adequately fund infrastructure - most urgently the sewer systems are failing and need repair and potential redesign.

The Newtown Redevelopment Plan needs to be funded.

Traffic issues in and near downtown need to be addressed. Closing a portion of State St reduces the options drivers have for moving within and through downtown. This will increase congestion. The city has not funded any form of public transportation that will relieve downtown (and city wide) traffic.

Is giving a developer $17,000,000+ for less than 200 new parking spaces too high a price to pay? We need to address our city’s needs before its wants. We hope the Commission's discussion on Monday includes the larger picture.


Anonymous said...

I am completely at a loss to understand how city officials could be considering vacating a public street to a developer that will benefit monetarily to its square footage and air rights over it. I also am amazed that through all the negotiating, the city does not believe that they should assign a value for State Street and the air rights above it in these negotiations- whose interests are the actually serving? In this morning's paper the Downtown Partnership asserted that the State Street parking lot was not big enough to develop in any meaningful way- as if to say it was a worthless piece of property the city should be happy to get off its hands. This statement is not true. The city was precluded from issuing an RFP for the site by the developers of Pineapple Square. Without feedback from other interested parties that might come forward with proposals for the property, we are now being force fed some type of propaganda? Shame on the Downtown Partnership for furthering this lie!!

Anonymous said...

I would like the parking lot to remain on the State Street lot. I find this a better location and do not understand how they say inside a big structure on the next block is a much better location. I also do not see this being a fair exchange. I would rather, if the city want to give money to the development, give them TIF money and keep the valuable State Street lot to be developed as affordable apartments. The city can certainly figure out how to do that.

Anonymous said...

I really don't know where you get your numbers from but perhaps you should actually read the proposal from the developer that the Commission is using to make their decision. They are going to pay $1.8M for the lot on Lemon and State and for the loss of parking on State Street as well contribute well over $9M in taxes. There is also the snowball effect of bringing better retail to the downtown and more people living there. The developer is being very sensitive to our needs by making sure all along Lemon these buildings will remain single story and thus retain the character of Sarasota that I so love.
If this project doesn't moe forward and the properties get sold off be prepared for more huge building to take their place. Be careful what you ask for. I have seen and heard the proposal by Mr. Simon and I am impressed with his willingness to listen and develop what we the citizins of downtown want. Many changes have been made to the plan to accomodate your group as well. Any gratitude?

As a business owner and longtime(34 years) resident and taxpayer I would like to know just who you think you represent when you talk about saving "OUR" Sarasota? It is mine too as well as all the business owners that pay the exorbitant taxes to support those of you that don't work or live downtown.
I wouldn't dream of coming into one of your neighborhoods and presume to know what you should have in the way of zoning or building design or projects but somehow your group thinks it can impose what you want on us.
Lighten up and support the Commission once in awhile as they are trying to make sure the MasterPlan you all said you wanted actually sees the light of day.
Just once maybe SOS can come out FOR something.

Anonymous said...

11:12 blogger,

You need to reeducate yourself regarding the financials of this project- as your facts are not correct. Get a copy of the agenda packet on this project and read the reviews and terms being considered, as I too am a downtown worker and resident. You have no idea what impact this project is going to have on the built environment.

Anonymous said...

The deal is not a good deal for the city!!!!

The developer wants to pay 1 million dollars for the state street lot and the rest of the gift of the property value is to exchange air rights for the city to "build" parking in their development. The city still have to "pay" for each and every space built at the tune of at least $20,000 per space times 350 spaces is a lot of money. So the question is, is a parking lot inside the Pineapple Square development a better option than the city developing the State Street lot for a parking structure? I do not think so.

I find it hard to believe this developer was so stupid after buying all this land downtown that his project will not work if they do not get the State Street lot. They own many properties. They just want to get one for nothing. If it was such a good deal for the city then why do they have to have it happen, they should just use that "valuable" space they are trading the air rights for and use it themselves.

They also do not promise anything to the city, no promise of retail, food or available parking. Everything is just implied. When the city did a deal with Whole Foods they knew exactly what they were getting, a Whole Foods. But with this project they did PR up the whazoo and have the public bought into this project without any guarantees. How can the city give away money to a development without really knowing what they are getting? I would be in favor of contributions from the city, if the developer actually guaranteed the specific tenants and quality of the tenants but they aren't and they haven't!

You have to hand it to the developer though, they are good at talking a good talk but we the city need details and to tell people the city is being too critical with demanding details is insulting to us and our intelligence.

I think we should carefully watch the commissioners in this meeting monday night because this is real politics at work. We will see if they are being careful with our money and our property, State Street.