Weekend street closures expanded in downtown Sarasota to help local restaurants with economic recovery during pandemic

Section of Lemon Avenue to be closed, along with 1300 block of Main Street and portion of State Street

A portion of Main Street in Sarasota is closed over Memorial Day weekend. Photo by Norman Schimmel, courtesy of the City of Sarasota

To help local restaurants with their economic recovery, experimental partial street closures in downtown Sarasota not only will continue, but they also will be expanded, city leaders announced on May 29.

“A portion of Lemon Avenue has been added to the partial street closure list, which already includes segments of State Street and lower Main Street,” a news release explains. “The partial closures allow restaurants to expand their dining footprint into the street.”

The closures began at 3:30 p.m. on May 29 and were set to end at midnight that night and on Saturday, May 30. The following areas are affected, the news release notes:

  • 1300 block of Main Street(Palm Avenue to Mira Mar Court).
  • State Street from the State Street parking garage to Lemon Avenue.
  • Lemon Avenue from Main Street to the alley just north of State Street

Partial street closures are expected to be in effect each Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 3:30 p.m. to midnight, “possibly through June,” the release says.

City staff “is working with downtown merchants to determine interest in this experimental economic recovery program and possible expansion to other business districts,” the release points out. Affected street blocks may vary from week to week, based on comments and interest from business owners, the release adds.

Those interested in being involved with this experimental endeavor are encouraged to email CityNews@SarasotaFL.Gov.

Additionally, the news release says that approved street vendors selling protective face masks are being invited to return to locations in downtown Sarasota and Lido Beach, as well as an area near O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill at Bayfront Park. The vendors are welcome on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays and Sundays “for the foreseeable future,” the release notes

“City residents are strongly urged to wear protective masks when leaving home under the City’s local public health emergency declaration,” the release emphasizes.

City staff already has made several efforts “to aid local restaurants and businesses with a speedy reopening and recovery, including waiving building permit fees for improvements to adapt to health concerns; temporarily relaxing the zoning code to encourage and facilitate outdoor dining; and creating a new no-fee, temporary outdoor café permit that allows for expanded outdoor seating,” the release points out.

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