Other items could be on the agenda that evening, county planner says
A Sarasota County planner has confirmed for The Sarasota News Leader that the county Planning Commission is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on proposed changes to the layout of the Siesta Promenade mixed-use project on the evening of July 20.
That meeting will be held in the Commission Chambers of the County Administration Center in downtown Sarasota, Planner Keaton Osborn said. The address of that structure is 1660 Ringling Blvd.
The Planning Commission sessions typically begin at 5 p.m. The agenda usually is released a week before the meeting.
As its county webpage explains, the Planning Commission advises the County Commission “on the adoption of and amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, as well as land use applications filed, pursuant to state statute or existing county ordinances.”
The Comprehensive Plan is the document that guides growth in the county.
In a May 17 email provided through county Media Relations Officer Brianne Lorenz, Osborn wrote, “As of now, [the Siesta Promenade hearing] is the only item scheduled [for the July 20 meeting], but we anticipate other items may be added as agendas are filling up.”
In 2018, when the Planning Commission conducted its original hearing on Siesta Promenade, that item was one of two on the agenda. That meeting lasted close to six hours, with all but about 13-and-a-half minutes devoted to the Siesta Promenade application.
On Dec. 12, 2018, the County Commission hearing on the plans for Siesta Promenade was the only item on that agenda. The hearing lasted about nine hours.
The county commissioners had asked county staff to plan on the solitary agenda item, given community opposition to the proposal and the expectation that dozens of people would want to speak during the hearing. As it turned out, the total number of individuals who addressed the board members was 69.
During an almost two-hour-long Neighborhood Workshop on May 1, residents of Pine Shores Estates — which borders the Siesta Promenade site — and other individuals made it clear to the project team that they are especially unhappy with one key change in the new Development Concept Plan for Siesta Promenade: the inclusion of parallel parking spaces along Glencoe Avenue, which is one of Pine Shores’ primary roads.
In August 2019, Siesta 41 Associates LLP, the Benderson Development Co. affiliate that formally is the developer of Siesta Promenade, purchased two single-family home sites in Pine Shores that are immediately adjacent to the project site. The purchase price was a total of $825,000, Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show. The seller of both parcels was identified as Roxanne E. Goodman of Pine Shores.
Subsequently, Benderson representatives indicated that the company wanted to expand the number of residential units by 16, on the basis of that additional property. However, those plans later were dropped.
In late 2022, Philip DiMaria, a planner and project manager with the Kimley-Horn consulting firm in Sarasota — which has worked with Benderson for years on Siesta Promenade — filed a new application with the county Planning Division, showing a concept plan for the project that incorporated the additional 0.78 acres of those single-family home parcels. That brought the size of the development site to a little more than 24 acres, based on the 2022 application materials.
It was not until March of this year that revised concept plans submitted to county staff showed the plans for the parallel parking spaces on Glencoe Avenue.
DiMaria and other project team members maintained during the May 1 workshop that the spaces will serve as a traffic-calming measure for Pine Shores. However, Sura Kochman, leader of the Pine Shores Neighborhood Alliance — which long had opposed the intensity of the plans for Siesta Promenade — stressed that the spaces will result in even more drivers coming into the neighborhood. She also speculated that the project team incorporated the spaces into the latest design for potential use as valet parking spots for the restaurants that are expected to be included in the commercial portion of the development.
Siesta Promenade is planned in the northwest quadrant of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road. As approved by the County Commission in December 2018, it will have 414 apartments/condominiums, a 130-room hotel, 133,000 square feet of retail space and 7,000 square feet of office space.
Other residents of the surrounding area — as well as Siesta Key homeowners who routinely use the Stickney Point Road access to and from the island — have complained for years that traffic associated with Siesta Promenade will exacerbate vehicle congestion that has worsened with the increasing national attention focused on Siesta Public Beach. Since 2011, the county park often has been included in national Top 10 beach lists.