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.