First phase of construction could begin this fall on vacant lot at the northwest corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41.
Benderson Development has modified its plans for vacant land that was once the site of a mobile home park at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.
The company is taking its first steps to gain county approval for the latest version of Siesta Promenade — a mixed-use center that would transform the busy intersection — and hopes to break ground as early as fall 2016 on the retail and hotel component of the project, Todd Mathes, director of development at Benderson, told Siesta Sand.
The project requires Sarasota County Planning Commission and County Commission approval before construction could begin on the 24-acre site. Benderson filed its latest pre-application material with the county’s Planning and Development Services Department on April 25, following that up with the formal application on May 10.
In large part to meet the concerns of residents who live near the property, Benderson modified the proposal it filed with the county in 2014.
Under the new plan, the lifestyle center would include 140,000 square feet of retail space and a 150-room hotel. A residential component of 600 units would comprise luxury rental apartments and condominiums on approximately 12 acres of the site.
Benderson has decreased the total proposed commercial development by more than 100,000 square feet, said Mathes, who is the project manager for Siesta Promenade. The initial plans for the lifestyle center had 250,000 square feet of retail space.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on this,” Mathes told Siesta Sand. “We are very confident that it works, and we think it is the right compromise for the neighborhood.”
Siesta Promenade would group relatively small retail buildings around the edges of the front half of the property. The largest retail space — about 35,000 square feet — would be filled by an upscale grocery store, Mathes said. Some examples of a possible tenant are The Fresh Market or Sprouts Farmers Market, Mathes acknowledged, saying Benderson prefers to have its tenants announce their plans. Shoppers would park in the middle of the development and walk to restaurants, bars and shops, Mathes said.
The back portion of the property would contain the hotel and the residential units in four different buildings, the most recent plans show.
Benderson’s new proposal also includes a sidewalk on Glencoe Avenue and landscaping buffering between the center and the nearby neighborhood.
After seeing the 2014 plans for the center, residents in the Pine Shores neighborhood — the residential area behind the new development — voiced concerns about the amount of traffic the center would add to the congestion they already experience in that vicinity — especially during season, as traffic often backs up on the Stickney Point approach to Siesta Key — and about privacy issues.
Sura Kochman, a resident of the Pines Shores neighborhood and spokeswoman for the Pines Shores Neighborhood Alliance, calls the reduction in the commercial aspect of the center an improvement. But she told Siesta Sand she still worries that traffic will impact “all those who live/work/shop in the [U.S.] 41 and Stickney Point area, as well as residents and tourists who use the south bridge to access Siesta Key.”
Kochman noted that residents had specifically asked Benderson representatives to eliminate access points through the neighborhood, but the new plans shows those features remain. Kochman said residents are worried that to avoid traffic at U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road, drivers will end up using their streets as a cut-through.
But Benderson representatives say the company is working on what it sees as the best ingress and egress for the center. They have presented entrance and exit plans for two intersections to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The state agency is reviewing the material and providing feedback, Mathes pointed out. The developer is also working with FDOT to figure out how a proposed signal at the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Avenue B and C — for traffic turning into and out of the center — could be synchronized with the signal at the intersection of Stickney Point and Midnight Pass roads to reduce congestion.
Constructed in phases
The 24-acre property was formerly the site of a service station and 300 mobile homes. It has been vacant for close to nine years. Benderson originally proposed a mixed-use development on the property in 2006 and 2007, but the Great Recession put those plans on hold.
The Sarasota News Leader learned last week that Mathes is scheduled to present the new concept for the center to members of the Siesta Key Association on June 2 at 4:30 p.m. at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on the Key.
While the retail and hotel phase would be constructed first, the residential component of the project likely would be built within three to five years after county approval was received, Mathes told Siesta Sand.
“They will be all high-end rental [units] and condos,” Mathes said.
Based on research Benderson has conducted, he added, company staff members believe a market exists for such residences in that area of Sarasota County.
The property will need a new zoning reclassification — the current use is designated for mobile homes — and a special exception for additional height for some of the residential buildings. The application submitted to the county shows a maximum height of 85 feet.
Pelican Plaza upgrade
Some changes are also underway a few miles to the south, at the Benderson Development-owned Pelican Plaza, which was in need of rehabilitation when the firm purchased it in 2012.
Benderson has steadily renovated the center, which has a mix of new tenants, including Petco, Total Wine and More, Sports Authority and ULTA beauty — although Sports Authority has announced that it will be closing all of its stores.
Starbucks is under construction in the plaza, and a grocery store is planned between Petco and Total Wine, Mathes told Siesta Sand. The name of a grocer has not been announced.
As it revitalizes Pelican Plaza, Benderson also is branching out with projects on adjacent land. Benderson has purchased the office buildings south of Pelican Plaza, with plans to demolish them and redevelop that property to match the center, Mathes told Siesta Sand.
In addition, just to the north, Benderson bought the site of the dilapidated structure that was a Denny’s restaurant many years ago; it demolished that building too. The company is in the process of obtaining county approval to erect something new on that parcel, Mathes noted, adding that he expects the construction to start soon.