New owners of the 7-Eleven property looking for the right new tenant; discussions continuing on the future of the 162 Beach Road parcel; more details available about the grand opening of the renovated Siesta Beach Park; Easter Egg Hunt volunteers needed; the County Commission chair lets his sense of humor shine; and the Condo Council will meet again next week
Longtime Siesta Village property owners Jim Syprett and Jay Lancer of Sarasota have added a new parcel to their holdings: the 10,293-square-foot site where the 7-Eleven stood for about 15 years at 5232 Ocean Blvd.
The two paid $1.6 million for the property, closing on Jan. 19, according to records of the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office.
The Southland Corp. in Dallas, Texas — the corporate home of 7-Eleven Food Stores — bought the parcel in November 1990, the tax records show.
In a Feb. 3 telephone interview, Syprett told me he and Lancer have not reached a decision yet on what will take the place of the convenience store. “Basically, we are talking with a number of potential tenants,” Syprett added. “It’ll be something that is consistent with our other properties that we own.”
Among those other properties are the Daiquiri Deck, the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar, Siesta Key Oyster Bar and Gidget’s Coastal Provisions.
Gidget’s, which opened on March 24, 2014, stands on the former site of Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, which moved up the street to the Key Corners plaza.
“It’s just a matter of finding the right tenant,” Syprett pointed out.
Asked if they would consider opening another restaurant in the Village, he replied, “It would have to be so different than the Daiquiri Deck and the Siesta Key Oyster Bar.” Finally, he said, “It will be retail of some sort; it’s very difficult to predict.”
Syprett also pointed out, “We’ve been there so long, [the Village is] like home to us, and you take care of your home.”
Syprett and Lancer have been investing in Siesta Key properties since the early 1990s, Syprett told me.
He gives all the credit to Lancer — whom he says is very patient — for making this latest deal possible. “It was well over a year,” Syprett noted, between the start of the negotiations and the conclusion.
While Syprett and Lancer are looking into possibilities for the site, its parking lot is proving quite useful.
Lisa Cece, the special district coordinator in the county’s Transportation and Real Estate departments who oversees Village maintenance for the county, noted after the Feb. 2 Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) meeting that four vehicles were in front of the empty 7-Eleven store when she passed by it that morning. “We’ll take whatever [parking spaces] we can get,” she said with a laugh.
162 Beach Road update
William Merrill III, of the Icard Merrill law firm in Sarasota, told me last week that he has been talking with Sarasota County staff about options for the future of the property at 162 Beach Road, owned by his clients Ronald and Sania Allen of Osprey.
Those discussions have not reached the stage of crafting a proposal for the County Commission to consider, he added. “We’re hoping to get there, but we’re not there yet.”
In October 2015, the County Commission voted unanimously for the third time to turn down a request by the Allens to build a house on the property. Photographic documentation has shown the site was underwater in past decades, and all of the couple’s construction would have been seaward of the county’s Gulf Beach Setback Line, which is designed to control development in sensitive environmental areas.
Even before the County Commission voted on Oct. 14, 2015 to deny the Allens’ latest petition for a coastal setback variance — which was crafted after months-long mediation involving county staff — Merrill had cautioned that if the board did not allow the couple to erect a house on the site, that could be considered a “taking.”
Grand opening of the beach park improvements
During the Feb. 2 Siesta Key Village Association meeting, Vice President Smith reminded the 13 other people present that Sarasota County staff will host the grand opening of the Siesta Public Beach Park improvements on Feb. 20. The schedule calls for the event to begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at noon, Smith noted.
A Feb. 3 county news release says, “The morning will be filled with an opening ceremony, entertainment, refreshments, recreational activities, kids’ crafts, beach sports and more.”
Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to join a walking tour along the new esplanade “to see all of the amenities and learn more about them from guests stationed along the way,” the release notes. “The tour begins at 10 a.m., and participants can grab a special passport to be stamped at each stop, with an opportunity to win a prize at the end,” the release adds.
During the SKVA discussion, Smith pointed out that the set-up for groups offering information, such as the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, will begin at 8 a.m. on Feb. 20. He added that he was not sure whether the SKVA would like to set up a tent.
“I’m trying to think of what would we have as pass-outs, and we have nothing,” Treasurer Roz Hyman responded.
“What did you do with the old banners?” Siesta Key Association President (SKA) President Michael Shay asked jokingly, prompting laughter.
(The Village is sporting new banners that the SKVA approved late last fall. They went up after the holiday decorations came down in early January.)
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ann Frescura offered to share her organization’s tent with SKVA members: “Come hang out; we’ll be the cool tent.”
“Thank you,” SKVA board member Russell Matthes told her.
And on a related note: Sgt. Jason Mruczek of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office told the SKVA group that the Public Safety Building — which will serve as the Sheriff’s Office’s new substation — was scheduled to be finished by the end of this week. (An earlier projection called for its completion in late January.)
Mruczek told me informally before the meeting began that it appears the construction crew is working seven days a week.
When I asked the project manager for the county, Brad Gaubatz, about Mruczek’s comment about the work schedule, Gaubatz replied in a Feb. 3 email that staff has approved additional hours for the crew, “which is not unusual at the end of a project.” Gaubatz added, “[U]nanticipated rains did impact their processes a bit but they are on schedule to finish [on time].”
The Siesta Key Village Association will hold a meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10, to begin planning for the 15th annual Easter Egg Hunt & Games, which it will host on Saturday, March 26, at Beach Access 5.
As SKVA Treasurer Roz Hyman has pointed out, the event is so popular families already have begun registering their children for it.
Each participating youngster — ages 1 to 6 — receives a stuffed animal and a goody bag “stuffed with prizes,” the SKVA website notes, offering a link to the sign-up sheet.
“[We need to] get the ball rolling; get our eggs ordered,” SKVA President Wendall Jacobsen of Beach Bazaar told the members present for the organization’s Feb. 2 meeting.
The planning session will be held at the offices of Smith Architects, located at 5032 Calle Minorga.
“Please join us; it’s fun,” Jacobsen said, adding that volunteers are certainly welcome.
During her report at the SKVA meeting, Chamber Executive Director Frescura said her organization’s annual dinner, held on Jan. 22 at TPC Prestancia, was “very well attended.” Mark Smith is the new chair, she added, and Aledia Tush, co-owner of C.B.’s Saltwater Outfitters, is the new chair-elect. Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Café, is the secretary, Frescura noted, while Brad Stewart of Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar is the treasurer.
During the annual dinner, Frescura continued, four businesses received special Community Partner awards: Captain Curt’s, Village Café, the Daiquiri Deck and Mattison’s Forty-One.
Other winners were as follows:
- Large Business of the Year: First Watch Restaurants.
- Small Business of the Year: Sassy Hair Salon.
- Business Person of the Year: Michael Lewis.
- Sharon Cunningham Visitor’s Center Volunteer of the Year: Ardith Tromley.
- Volunteer of the Year: Mike Gatz.
- Shining Star of the Year: Lance Harden.
The man has a sense of humor
During the Jan. 19 Siesta Key Condominium Council membership meeting, Sarasota County Commission Chair Al Maio answered quite a few tough questions. At one point, to interject some levity, he said, “I’m Paul Caragiulo, by the way; I’m not Al Maio.”
Maio and Caragiulo — a former Sarasota city commissioner — both were elected to the county board in 2014.
As questions multiplied about Benderson Development’s plans for the property it owns at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road, Maio encouraged the audience members to voice their feelings during public hearings on projects. Everyone is allowed 5 minutes, he noted. “Say whatever you want … [but] no spitting, swearing or throwing things ….”
And a little more on the light side
When Sarasota County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Mruczek offered his report during the Feb. 2 Siesta Key Village Association meeting, he said the cold weather last month “kind of slowed things down,” so officers were not as busy as usual for that time of year on the Key.
No real crime trend had been observed, he continued. However, Mruczek explained that deputies recently investigated two reports about stolen vehicles. In one case, it turned out the female complainant had forgotten the color of her rental car. An officer found it four spots down from where she thought she had left it, Mruczek added, “with dust all over it.”
A second incident apparently involved a trick one person was playing on another, he said.
Condo Council meeting this month
On Feb. 16, the Siesta Key Condominium Council will host its next meeting at Siesta Key Chapel. Mike Angers, vice president of Brown & Brown of Florida Insurance, will be the guest speaker.
Brown is scheduled to provide an overview of the insurance market; address legislative changes related to insurance; and respond to insurance-related questions about the tornado damage last month at Excelsior Beach to Bay.
The session will begin with registration and refreshments at 3 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, followed by the meeting at 3:30 p.m.
Siesta Key Chapel is located at 4615 Gleason Ave., east of Siesta Village.