Key West Sandal Factory plans to take over former 7-Eleven space; Turtle Beach Park improvements should be underway; South Siesta Renourishment Project property assessments hearing postponed; Liberty Litter Cleanup volunteers sought; and more sewer infrastructure remediation planned on the Key
The new tenant of the former 7-Eleven store on Ocean Boulevard is expected to be the Key West Sandal Factory, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
“They’ve been an institution in Key West,” Jim Syprett — who co-owns the property at 5232 Ocean Blvd. — said of the company in an interview with the News Leader on June 14.
“I think it’s really neat to have a good retailer,” he added.
Syprett and his business partner, Jay Lancer, bought the former convenience store property for $1.6 million in January.
As Syprett mentioned a couple of weeks ago, he and Lancer have been working with Florida Power & Light about the relocation of two transformers in preparation for the construction of an addition to the building. Everything should be finalized shortly, Syprett said, so the formal lease signing can proceed. “We’re trucking along.”
Syprett pointed out that Siesta Village has only one other shoe store — Comfort Shoes Siesta Key in Davidson Plaza — although some shops do sell shoes in a mix of offerings. “Shoe stores don’t seem to compete with each other,” he continued, noting that a mall may have half a dozen such businesses. That just creates more of a selection, he said.
The Key West Sandal Factory is known for the quality of its offerings, Syprett noted, and it will fit in perfectly in the Village.
Referring to the maxim, “A proper mix of restaurants and retail serves the best interests [of the public],” he added, “I think that’s the absolute truth.”
The Key West Sandal Factory website says the business was established in 1932 “and is the oldest sandal factory in the US.” It says, “Key West Sandals can be seen on the streets, and beaches of the world as well as on the feet of countless celebrities.”
Syprett told the News Leader he feels the shop will be the perfect fit in the Siesta Beach setting. In an interview earlier this month, he said he is hopeful the business will be able to open its doors in early 2017.
As for the addition to the existing building: County records show it will encompass about 1,140 square feet. The existing structure has 2,358.65 square feet.
The county’s Board of Zoning Appeals on May 11 approved a variance request from Syprett and Lancer so the new section could be built to the rear property line.
The last new retail construction in the Village also was a Syprett/Lancer project: Gidget’s Coastal Provisions, which opened on March 24, 2014 on the site where Napoli’s Italian Restaurant previously stood. With Siesta architect Mark Smith in charge of the design, only a portion of the original structure remained in Gidget’s building.
Smith also is the architect for the addition to the former 7-Eleven structure.
Turtle Beach project update
Construction of new amenities at Turtle Beach Park was scheduled to get underway after a June 15 meeting with county staff, Drew Winchester, a county spokesman, reported to The Sarasota News Leader this week.
In a unanimous vote on May 24, the Sarasota County Commission approved a $694,296.69 contract with Magnum Builders of Sarasota to handle the work.
Plans call for a new parking lot with 35 additional spaces, a new playground and shade structure, a kayak launch, sidewalks, drainage system improvements, pedestrian crossings, a rain garden and extra landscaping throughout the park, according to a memo provided to the board in advance of its May 24 meeting.
The project is scheduled to be mostly complete by Oct. 8, with final completion by Nov. 8, “if there are no substantial delays,” Winchester wrote the News Leader in an email. Rain — especially in the summertime — has been known to slow down construction of county projects on the Key.
Residents in the immediate area were to be notified by postcard at least two weeks prior to the start of construction, the May 24 staff memo noted.
South Siesta Renourishment Project assessments
Although a public hearing before the County Commission had been advertised for June 8 regarding property assessments associated with the recently completed South Siesta Renourishment Project, staff asked that it be postponed, a note on the agenda said. Board Chair Al Maio remarked on that, as well, during the meeting that day.
No one had signed a card to address the matter, Maio added, before asking County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh whether the board needed to vote on a specific date for the future hearing.
Before DeMarsh could respond, County Administrator Tom Harmer pointed out that the public hearing would have to be re-advertised, so no commission vote was necessary.
In response to a News Leader question about the June, county spokesman Jason Bartolone explained in a June 9 email, “Staff are still finalizing the construction costs to get the most accurate number for the assessments, which led to the postponement.”
He added, “The hearing has been rescheduled for Aug. 23,” noting that the board will be on its annual summer break from late July through early August.
Staff had provided a detailed accounting of the costs of the project that it had in hand in advance of the June 8 meeting, which put the total at $21,925,000. The document noted that the design expense was $725,237, with $19,121,738 for the construction, though an accompanying note indicated the latter was not the final figure. Another $2,078,025 was allocated to a variety of other expenses, including construction management, project management, legal issues and advertising.
The sheet in the agenda packet also pointed out that $7,952,130 came from Tourist Development Tax revenue set aside for beach restoration projects, while $430,000 was carried over from the previous renourishment.
A staff memo provided to the board with the agenda packet noted that the total cost of the first renourishment, which was completed in 2007, was $11,349,490.64. The primary reason the cost nearly doubled in nine years was “high demand for dredging services post-Hurricane Sandy,” the memo said.
However, the percentage of the total cost of the second renourishment that will be funded through property assessments “is expected to decrease slightly due to available funding from other sources,” the memo added.
The cost detail sheet showed the “total number of living units on properties and vacant properties with direct beach shoreline frontage” in the area to be assessed is 395.
The assessments are planned to start in the 2017 tax year, the memo notes. A seven-year amortization period is planned, with a 3.25-percent annual interest rate, the memo says, though it points out, “A property owner may pay the assessed cost in full at any time.”
The assessments for the previous renourishment ended with the 2014 tax year, the memo says.
On June 13, less than a week after the County Commission postponed the public hearing, board members gathered at the beach to celebrate the recently completed project.
It added more than 1 million tons of sand to about 2 miles of shoreline; the sand was dredged from three areas located seven to 10 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, a county news release said.
“Renourishment projects like this one help protect our community from the threat of coastal erosion,” said commission Chair Alan Maio in the news release. “Our board has made a major commitment to funding renourishment projects that will preserve the beaches that make our community so special.”
In lieu of a ribbon cutting, the event featured a ceremonial tossing of sand.
Liberty Litter Cleanup
During the June 2 Siesta Key Association (SKA) meeting, board member Joe Volpe announced that volunteers are being sought for Keep Sarasota County Beautiful’s Liberty Litter Cleanup, which is scheduled from 7 to 9 a.m. on July 5.
The goal is to collect garbage remaining on area beaches in the wake of the July Fourth celebration.
The beaches where the cleanup effort will take place are Siesta, Lido, Nokomis, North Jetty and Blind Pass, as well as Ted Sperling Park on South Like Key, according to a county flyer.
People may register by calling the County Contact Center at 861-5000 or visiting www.scgov.net/kscb.
Interested persons are encouraged to sign up early for the event.
More sewer system upgrades
Two other residential areas of the Key will see rehabilitation of their sanitary sewer systems, thanks to Sarasota County Commission action in late May.
As part of the approval of its Consent Agenda of routine business items on May 24, the board awarded two contracts to Insituform Technologies: one, for $290,425.80, was for work in the Mangrove Point Basin; the second, for $170,814, was for construction in Turtles Basin.
Previously, the board had contracted with Insituform for new sanitary pipelines in the Treasure Boat Way and Island Circle neighborhoods.
The work in the Mangrove Point Basin will involve trenchless reconstruction of about 7,500 linear feet of pipeline with a diameter of 8 inches and 930 feet of pipeline with a 10-inch diameter, according to a county staff memo.
In Turtles Basin, Insituform will rehabilitate about 4,400 linear feet of pipes with an 8-inch diameter.
The projects are expected to extend the life of the pipe by more than 50 years, staff says.
The Insituform office closest to Sarasota is in Tampa.
The projects will begin late this summer and continue through late fall, the May 24 staff memos say. In both cases, residents in the immediate areas will be notified by postcard at least two weeks before the work starts, the memos note.