County Commission approves advertisement for affordable housing project proposals for 114-acre county parcel at 2501 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way

Responses due by April 26

This is the cover of the Invitation to Negotiate, as provided to the commissioners in advance of the March 9 meeting. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Having grown frustrated last year over Sarasota County administrative staff’s negotiations with a developer interested in constructing an affordable housing community on county-owned land located at 2501 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota, Commissioner Nancy Detert called for a new approach.

And she won her colleagues’ support for it: Staff would take the appropriate steps to create a competitive public process in an effort to “maximize the options,” as Detert put it, for a project on the 114 acres.

It took less than 8 minutes on March 9 for the commissioners to unanimously approve the advertisement of an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), for companies interested in the property.

During a presentation to the board, Matt Osterhoudt, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, said, “We wanted to make sure we had clarity on the scope of that process” before the solicitation was issued.

Osterhoudt then showed the commissioners a staff chart reflecting the required elements of any application for development of the property. That included “a timeline for construction all the way through occupancy,” he noted, plus the number of planned dwelling units, the income level to which those units would be targeted, and a written narrative regarding the creative aspects of the proposal.

Chair Alan Maio told his colleagues he had spoken with Osterhoudt that morning, before the board meeting began, and on another occasion, about facets of the ITN. After staff receives the responses from interested parties, Maio proposed that it present the commission a graphic just as it did during the early February discussion about proposals provided to the county for an affordable housing project on county land located at 4644 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Maio pointed out that that chart made it easy for the board members to compare the facets of the six applications staff had received in response to the ITN advertised for that site.

This chart compared facets of the six proposals staff received for the property located at 4644 N. Tamiami Trail. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Commissioner Detert noted that each of the board members had had an opportunity to discuss the proposed new ITN with Osterhoudt, one-on-one. “I think it’s good,” she said of the planned advertisement.

The only suggestion she had, she continued, would be the requirement that each applicant for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way site include its anticipated time of completion for its project.

Referencing Maio’s long career in land-use issues as a principal of the Kimley-Horn consulting firm, Detert added that Maio probably had seen initiatives that “had a beginning, a middle and no end,” and that lack of a conclusion “was the killer.”

“So I’d like to see an ending date [on the chart],” Detert told Osterhoudt.

A graphic shows the property at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Tuttle Avenue, with Myrtle Street to the north. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“I think it was thoughtful,” Commissioner Michael Moran said of the ITN, adding that any parties interested in the 2501 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way property should ensure they include in their applications “unique development factors.”

“We want creative, entrepreneurial-type thought in front of this board to enhance the community,” Moran emphasized. “I think we had a taste of that the last time with the Arts and Cultural Alliance.”

Moran was referring to the fact that the board members in early February directed staff to negotiate with the Alliance and a developer known as Artspace, which is based in Minneapolis, in response to the Alliance/Artspace application for a live/work artists community on the 6.2-acre parcel at 4644 N. Tamiami Trail.

Detert ended up making the March 9 motion that directed staff to proceed with advertising the ITN, and Moran seconded it.

The ITN responses will be due by 5 p.m. on April 26, the document says.

Facets of the Invitation to Negotiate

Matt Osterhoudt addresses the commissioners on March 9. News Leader image

The ITN points out that the county purchased the land located at 2501 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in 2013. The parcel is situated at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Tuttle Avenue. “The surrounding area includes residential (both single-family and multi-family) and governmental and school facilities,” the document says.

“The County may give special consideration to non-profit organizations,” the ITN notes. “The County will consider the following criteria:

  • “Development team
  • “Demonstrated development experience, including the qualifications and experience of potential purchasers, including examples of previous affordable housing projects;
  • “Proposed purchase price and financial feasibility;
  • “Affordable/workforce housing component, including number of units associated with a percentage of AMI (Area Median Income refers to a figure the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sets each year for every Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA.);
  • “Concept plans;
  • “Due diligence phase;
  • “Entitlement phase, including consistency of the proposed use with the zoning requirements and property physical characteristics; and
  • “Timeline for development, construction and occupancy.”

The property is zoned for single-family housing, the ITN notes, but “any development concept plan must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners.”

Among other facets of an application, the ITN continues, the developer must “[p]rovide … graphical representations of the site layout and architectural renderings of the proposed development.”