Revised parking fees for St. Armands win final City Commission approval

Board members also vote unanimously in favor of 2022 fiscal year assessments for St. Armands property owners to help pay for parking garage

A graphic shows the areas where parking meters were installed on St. Armands Circle. The City Commission has approved changes to most of the fees. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Reaffirming their unanimous vote on Aug. 17, the Sarasota city commissioners have approved a new fee schedule for metered parking and the city parking garage on St. Armands Circle.

Officially, they approved revisions to the applicable city ordinance, which was an item on their Consent Agenda No. 2 for their Sept. 7 regular meeting.

Mark Lyons, the city’s Parking Management Division manager, reviewed the proposed increases with them last month.

The revised fees will go into on effect Oct. 1, which will be the start of the city’s 2022 fiscal year.

As city staff pointed out during the Aug. 17 discussion, the City Commission in May 2016 approved the issuance of $17.5 million in bonds to pay for the city’s parking garage on St. Armands. Therefore, the city is obligated to cover the expense of those bonds, including the debt service. That was why the commission also agreed to implement a paid parking program on St. Armands: to raise the necessary revenue.

As for the changes starting Oct. 1: Instead of the St. Armands parking charges being in effect Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays will be added to the schedule, and the starting time will be 10 a.m.

Use of the spaces located in what city staff classified as the Yellow Zone of the Circle will cost $1.50 an hour, instead of $1 — the same price as parking spots in the Core, or Green Zone.

Persons parking in the Fillmore Drive parking lot — also known as the Purple Zone — will pay $1 per hour, instead of 75 cents.

The St. Armands parking garage opened in late 2019. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Finally, the rates in the St. Armands parking garage will be aligned with those for the Palm Avenue and State Street garages in downtown Sarasota. The first two hours will be free, while the charge for the third hour will be $3. For each additional hour, the rate will fall to $1, up to a maximum of $23 per day.

A city staff memo included in the Sept. 7 backup agenda material explained, “Through a combined effort with the Business Improvement District (BID) and the St. Armands Merchant Association (SAMA), there is a collective agreement to make adjustments that will benefit the district. Besides increasing the revenues, continuity between the Downtown district and the St. Armands paid parking area will [be] accomplished by using the same rate for all on-street parking, and the same rate structure used for the parking garages. The net revenues, after payment of debt service and operations, [remain] dedicated to the Paid Parking District which could then be used for any reasonable and appropriate expense.”

The memo added that no changes had been made to the ordinance other than the revisions the commissioners approved in August, as outlined above.

Commission also approves assessments for St. Armands property owners

These are a portion of the assessments for the 2022 fiscal year. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

In approving a related Consent Agenda No. 2 item on Sept. 7, the city commissioners also agreed to the annual assessments of St. Armands property owners for the 2022 fiscal year to help pay for the parking garage.

A city staff memo provided to the board members on that item noted that the initial resolution won City Commission approval in May 2016.

The assessments for 2022 are expected to bring in about $260,000, city Finance Director Kelly Strickland pointed out in a staff memo for the Sept. 7 meeting. The funds will be used to pay principal and interest on the bonds issued for the parking garage, she noted.

The resolution the commissioners approved links the assessments to the benefits the affected properties realize as a result of the construction of the parking garage.

For years, business leaders on St. Armands had sought such a facility as a means of satisfying the demand for parking spaces in the shopping destination. Research undertaken for Sarasota County’s tourism office, Visit Sarasota County, repeatedly has shown St. Armands Circle to be one of the county’s most popular attractions for tourists.

The assessment period is 20 years.

The highest maximum annual payment for the 2022 fiscal year, as shown on the two pages of the assessment rolls that The Sarasota News Leader reviewed, is $21,245.73. That amount is associated with property owned by Columbia Restaurant of Sarasota Inc. at 411 St. Armands Circle. The structures comprise 17,547 square feet of restaurant space and 6,417 of non-restaurant property, the roll says.

The second highest maximum annual payment is $11,691.68; that is for property owned by 400 SAC LLC. The limited liability company has 9,500 square feet of restaurant space and 3,728 square feet of non-restaurant area located at 400 St. Armands Circle. That company is affiliated with Benderson Development Co. in University Park, Florida Division of Corporations records show.

This is an aerial view of the property located at 400 St. Armands Circle, outlined in purple. Image courtesy Property Appraiser William Furst

The building standing at 400 St. Armands Circle includes the Crab & Fin restaurant and Tilden Ross Jewelers.

The third highest maximum annual payment is $10,813, which is due to the city from Spicey Estate LLC. That company owns 1,197 square feet of restaurant space and 23,713 square feet of non-restaurant property located at 464 John Ringling Blvd. on the Circle.

The manager of Spicey Estate LLC is Virginia M. O’Connor of Birdie Lane on Longboat Key, the Florida Division of Corporations records note.