The Sarasota city commissioners signaled Tuesday that they want Pineapple Square so badly that they're willing to accept the risks -- and ignore some of their own staff's advice.
The SHT editorial quoted above is a good summary of what happened. The rush to judgment blew right past the staff misgivings about the lopsided tilt toward the developer as well as completely ignoring the expert advice of the consultants.
The simple math says that the city is giving the Isaac Group $18,500,000 in land (State St lot) and cash for net increase of 200 public parking spaces.
The other incentives given to the Isaac Group are an entire block of State Street to build on and over and added height from a "boutique" text amendment designed to give this developer extra height without having to meet the requirement of providing 200 parking spaces to get the added height.
The Isaac Group claims that it is giving back to the city the 175 spaces they are required to build (apparently they would have sat empty under the original Isaac plan - since they claimed they were for their own use and the use was not disclosed - but a change of heart resulted in giving them to the city). Nice gift.
Oh yes, the Isaac's also sweetened the deal by giving back $1,000,000 in cash and promised to maintain the parking spaces until the city decided to charge for parking.
The Isaac project will also bring to the city a project the will increase the unmet parking demand by 213 spaces. This is means that more cars will be driving around and around trying to find a parking space. Of course there will also be many more cars coming into downtown each day.
Is this the long term vision that our commissioners have for the city: "I believe the long-term strategic vision of the city is more important than the decisions we'll be making today," said Mayor Mary Anne Servian.
The pitch was made and the commission wanted it so badly they didn't want to ask the tough questions or listen to reality. They just wanted to say yes.