City Commission approves mobility fee credit for Quay Sarasota developers on 4-1 vote

Quay Ventures LLC’s payment for design of roundabout at Fruitville Road and U.S. 41 basis for agreement, staff tells commissioners

A rendering on the website for the Quay Sarasota development shows the roundabout planned at the U.S. 41/Fruitville Road intersection in downtown Sarasota. Image from GreenPointe Communities

Sarasota city staff tried multiple times on June 17 to explain to City Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie how the city proposed to handle a multimodal transportation impact fee credit the city owes to the developers of the Quay Sarasota project. Nonetheless, Freeland Eddie voted against the $979,730 credit; she was the sole commissioner to do so.

Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown, City Attorney Robert Fournier and Assistant City Engineer Dan Ohrenstein all made attempts to help Freeland Eddie understand how the city came to owe the credit and how that credit would be handled.

Freeland Eddie asked variations of a question six times, according to a Sarasota News Leader count, during the board’s regular meeting on June 17, referencing information in the proposed agreement the board was addressing that afternoon.

Ohrenstein first pointed out that Quay Ventures LLC of Delaware, developer of the Quay Sarasota mixed-use project north of the Ritz-Carlton property, wanted to expedite the completion of the two-lane roundabout at the intersection of Fruitville Road and U.S. 41. That was in keeping with the planned construction timeline for the waterfront development west of the intersection, he noted.

City Manager Tom Barwin reported last month that construction of the roundabout is likely to start in July.

In December 2016, the City Commission sitting at that time approved the proposal for both the roundabout and the construction of the Quay, block-by-block.

A 2016 graphic shows the tentative general design of the 10 blocks for the Quay Sarasota project. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The total amount of the cost to design the roundabout, Ohrenstein continued on June 17, was about $1,099,000. Because Quay Ventures is responsible for $72,000 in expenses for related water utility design work, he said, that amount was subtracted from the figure.

The city was responsible for the design of a related wastewater pipeline project, Ohrenstein noted, which cost $48,000. Therefore, the city also would need to reimburse Quay Ventures that amount, he said.

When a developer gets its Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from city staff, Ohrenstein continued, “That’s when they pay their impact fees …”

The credit will be applied as each block of the Quay Sarasota is completed, he added.

Freeland Eddie then asked how staff would ensure that the credit would be applied to the construction of Block 6, which she indicated was part of the language in the proposed agreement. “There should be a reduction in the cost for that block,” she said.

“The credit is money that they don’t pay us,” Ohrenstein replied.

Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie. File photo

After she repeated her question and he repeated his answer, City Attorney Fournier explained that after the CO has been issued for Block 6, staff will determine the total mobility impact fees associated with that block, credit Quay Ventures for the amount and then carry over any remaining impact fee credit to each subsequent block as it is finished. In other words, he said, the credit “will be reduced as each block is developed.”

Deputy City Manager Brown reiterated Fournier’s point.

“We’re in a position to know what those numbers are,” Fournier told Freeland Eddie.

Then Freeland Eddie pointed out that a different developer — New Grand Residences LP — would be building out Block 6, according to the agreement before the commission that afternoon.

(The website for the Ritz-Carlton Residences of Sarasota points out that, in September 2018, New Grand Residences LP broke ground on an 18-story luxury tower at the southwest corner of the Quay Sarasota, which is designated Block 6 on the Quay plans the City Commission approved in December 2016. The website adds, “New Grande Residences LP uses The Ritz-Carlton mark under a license from Ritz-Carlton …”)

Quay Ventures wanted to ensure that New Grand Residences received part of the credit for Block 6, Fournier explained to Freeland Eddie.

“There’s no money exchanged,” Brown added at one point. If the developers end up owing more in multimodal impact fees after the Quay Sarasota has been completed, he said, “We will be getting a check.”

Roundabouts swap

During the discussion, Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch also referenced information in the agenda packet regarding the decision of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to make a switch from constructing the Fruitville roundabout to taking over authority of the proposed roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 41, south of Fruitville.

Assistant City Engineer Ohrenstein and Brown explained that FDOT, by law, cannot contract with a private developer.

The Gulfstream project was to be fully funded by the city, Brown said. “Fruitville was always going to be the responsibility of FDOT.”

The FDOT District One project webpage shows the location of the planned roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road. Image courtesy FDOT

However, after Quay Ventures proposed speeding up the Fruitville roundabout, Brown said, FDOT staff asked city staff about putting the city money toward the Fruitville roundabout, while FDOT would take over the Gulfstream project.

A previous City Commission approved that swap, he added.

When Ahearn-Koch asked whether the commission would have any say-so about the design of the Gulfstream roundabout, Brown told her that the board would be able to review the plans for walkability, for example, to ensure the design aligns with city goals. “But it’s an FDOT roadway. … They get to design and fund it accordingly.”

City Manager Barwin did add that, in an effort to ease the flooding issues in that area of the city, “The road will be elevated to some degree.”

FDOT also has “jurisdiction over much of the drainage, as well,” Barwin added, “which many people don’t understand.”

Doug Jeffcoat, director of the city’s Public Works Department, also explained that FDOT pays for the basic structure of a roundabout. If the City Commission wants enhancements, such as better lighting and landscaping, then the city has to pay for those, he told the board. The city also has to pay for any relocation of utility lines related to a roundabout project, Jeffcoat said.

Finally, Commissioner Hagen Brody made the motion to approve the agreement for the mobility fees credit, and Commissioner Willie Shaw seconded it. The 4-1 vote resulted.

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