Benderson Development submits responses to most recent county staff comments about insufficiencies in details about the project
In its latest responses regarding the proposed Siesta Promenade project, filed with Sarasota County in late March, Benderson Development continues to propose the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Avenue B and C.
The latest traffic analysis report says that the closure of the existing median opening at the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Glencoe Avenue also would be necessary to accommodate an eastbound left-turn lane in conjunction with the mixed-use development on the northwest corner of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.
Prepared by the Kimley-Horn and Associates consulting firm in Sarasota, the report notes that it has been updated to reflect comments from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Sarasota County staff, including those made during a Jan. 24 meeting.
Additionally, the March report says, as discussed with FDOT and county staff, Benderson proposes “the extension of the existing westbound merge lane to create a continuous westbound right-turn lane” along Stickney Point Road from U.S. 41 to the Avenue B and C intersection.
The latest FDOT discussion about the proposed project took place on Dec. 19, 2017, the report notes, while the most recent discussions with county staff were on Feb. 1. The report points out, “The final access configuration of the project driveways must be approved by [FDOT].”
However, that last statement relates to an issue that has raised questions in recent weeks: The Sarasota County Commission and county staff have talked of progress in ongoing negotiations with FDOT to swap the county’s control of River Road to the state in exchange for the county taking on maintenance of Stickney Point Road and Siesta Drive/Higel Avenue — west of U.S. 41 and Osprey Drive, respectively — as well as Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key.
Opponents of Siesta Promenade have voiced concerns to The Sarasota News Leader that if Stickney Point Road becomes a county road, FDOT no longer would have any say over traffic pattern adjustments made to accommodate Siesta Promenade — if the County Commission approves the project as proposed.
In response to a News Leader question about those concerns, Paula Wiggins, the county’s transportation planning manager, said in an April 3 email that “if Stickney Point Road becomes a county facility, improvements would be under the county’s jurisdiction. However, if those improvements have impacts to the intersection of US 41/Stickney Point Rd, the state would be able to weigh in.”
The News Leader also posed questions about FDOT’s involvement in the potential traffic pattern changes to Zachary Burch, government affairs and communications manager for FDOT. In an April 4 email, he wrote, “FDOT and Sarasota County have been discussing the possibility of swapping the jurisdiction of a portion River Road for a portion of SR 72 west of US 41. River Road is currently a county maintained road and SR 72 is currently a state maintained roadway. No decisions have been made by FDOT or Sarasota County and the conversations are still ongoing.”
County leaders have been intent on the proposed road swap because of the need to accelerate improvements to River Road, thanks to growing development in North Port; the coming relocation of the Atlanta Braves’ Spring Training operations to a new complex under construction in the West Villages; and heightened concern about the use of River Road as a hurricane evacuation route for South County residents, as well as those in areas of Charlotte County.
The Kimley-Horn report also continues to include the original figures for residential dwelling units and commercial space in Siesta Promenade, even though Benderson late last year reduced the number of proposed dwelling units from 506 to 414 and the number of planned hotel rooms from 150 to 130. One section of a March 27 letter Todd Mathes, Benderson’s director of development, sent to county Planner Todd Dary says the maximum “total equivalent residential dwelling units” will be 479. The letter also notes that the maximum number of multi-family units will be 414.
Along with the residential units and hotel, the project would feature 140,000 square feet of “neighborhood retail space,” the Kimley-Horn report says. “Primary access to the site will be provided onto US 41 and [State Road] 72/Stickney Point Road,” the report adds, “with minor site access” provided on Crestwood Avenue and Glencoe Avenue.
- The center project driveway along SR 72/Stickney Point Road is proposed as a right-turn in/right-turn out only driveway.
- The easternmost project driveway along Stickney Point Road is proposed as a right-turn in only driveway.
- The project driveway located along U.S. 41 is proposed as a right-turn in/right-turn out only driveway. “In addition,” the updated report says, “this driveway was located as far north as possible to provide as much distance between this driveway and the U.S. 41 & SR 72/Stickney Point Road intersection, as requested by FDOT.”
Responses to ‘Incomplete’ citations
The formal applicant is Siesta 41 Associates LLP, which is an affiliate of Benderson Development, Mathes also pointed out.
Among the February comments the letter addressed, Mathes noted that Benderson had removed street views it previously had provided in its application “to avoid any confusion.”
In response to staff comments about landscape buffers, Mathes wrote that those were revised “to be consistent” with county land development regulations. “Where Crestwood Avenue is being realigned,” Mathes continued, “more than equivalent buffer area is being proposed on the north side of the realigned road in lieu of a buffer on the south side of the road, so as to keep traffic associated with the project closer to the proposed new commercial area than the existing residences on the north side.”
Mathes also provided more details about the details of the development. For example, Block 1 will not exceed 479 residential units and it will have 5,000 square feet of commercial space. Nonetheless, a footnote said that “development shall not exceed totals of 479 [dwelling units],” including the hotel rooms.
In regard to the hotel: Mathes wrote that the density total for the hotel used the factors of one dwelling unit per one hotel with two rooms and no kitchens, or one room with one kitchen. The 130 rooms in the hotel would equate to 65 residential dwelling units, a chart showed.
The letter also said that 15% of the residential density above 13 dwelling units per acre “will be attainable to families making 80% and 100% of AMI.”
“AMI” refers to area median income. The 2017 AMI for the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was $65,500, county Planner Vivian Roe told the County Commission last month.
On Jan. 25, 2017, the County Commission voted 4-1 to allow Benderson to proceed with specific studies in accord with Benderson’s request for a Critical Area Plan designation for the project. Winning approval for that would allow Benderson to have density up to 25 units per acre, instead of the 13 per acre allowed in standard county Commercial General zoning districts.
The March 27 letter also noted that 133,000 square feet of gross leasable area (GLA) would be dedicated to retail business in the development, with 7,000 GLA designated for office space.
In Block 1, Mathes continued, the buildings may be 40 feet tall when they are at least 20 feet away from the property line fronting Glencoe Avenue or Crestwood Avenue. They may be 65 feet in height when they are at least 100 feet from the Glencoe or Crestwood property lines.
In Block 2, which is designated for commercial purposes, the buildings may be 50 feet tall when they are at least 40 feet from the property line fronting Glencoe Avenue.
Block 3, which will comprise retail, restaurant, office and hotel uses, may have buildings 80 feet in height when they are at least 150 feet from the Glencoe Avenue property line.
Blocks 4 and 5 also are planned for “retail, restaurant, and office commercial uses,” Mathes’ letter said.
Among other features, Mathes noted, “Parking areas shall not exceed 250 feet in any direction without being transversed by a pedestrian pathway. A single block face shall not exceed 600 feet without a connection between the internal network and a public sidewalk.”
Further, Blocks 2 and 3 “shall each have a minimum of one public open space each. Block 5 shall have a minimum of 3 public open spaces. Public open spaces may be a plaza, courtyard, promenade exceeding the minimum 6-foot sidewalk width, or combination thereof, and shall be a minimum of 2,500 square feet per public space.”
Those public spaces will be designed to include elements such as shaded seating, water features, public art and other means “to enhance the public experience of the space, and shall be located in close proximity to, and act as an interface with commercial buildings that are generally accessible by the public,” the letter noted.