From the Desk of the
City Manager
May 2, 2014
Ringling Garden
Many of the flowers in Mable's Rose Garden on the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are still in bloom and are breathtaking.  Completed 101 years ago, this is the oldest continuously operating rose garden in Florida.  It now boasts 1,000 different rose bushes and 300 species.  For those who pause a moment to take in these blooms, your olfactory senses will be rewarded with a variety of sweet fragrances.  The grounds are open to the public (at no charge) 7 days a week 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.  The Museum of Art is open 7 days a week 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.  Adult admission is $25 and seniors $20.  There is no charge on Monday.  For more information click here.  


  • City Commission 
    Mon., May 5 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers   
  • St. Armands BID 
    Tues., May 6 - 10:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., May 7 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • ManaSota League of Cities 
    Thurs., May 8 - 9:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.

Civilian Volunteer Coordinator
Director of Marketing & Audience Development
Field Service Representative
Lifeguard I
Lifeguard II
Manager, Information & Communication Technology
Parking Garage Attendant
Permitting Technician
Rec Attendant
Senior Internal Auditor  
Treatment Plant Operator C
Utility Mechanic I

This Week's Items to Know:
State Street Parking Lot - Closing May 19    We're progressing quickly with the construction phase of the new State Street Garage.  Starting May 19th, the State Street Parking Lot, located at the corner of State St. and Lemon Ave., will be closed for construction staging.  Our Parking Operations Division has been proactively working with parking permit holders for that lot, helping them to make other parking arrangements during the construction period.
The State Street Lot will close May 19th.
Drivers are encouraged to use nearby public parking areas, including the Burns Square Lot, First Street Lot, Orange Street Lot, and Whole Foods Garage on Second Street -- all of which are less than a five minute healthy walk to the State Street area.

To help mitigate parking needs during construction, portions of Ringling, Pineapple, Morrill, Rawls and Adelia soon will be re-striped to create an additional 35 on-street parking spaces.  A temporary agreement with BMO Harris Bank will allow 12 parking spaces within the BMO Garage (at Pineapple and McAnsh) to be free and open to the public weekdays 6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

We understand the State Street Lot is very popular on Saturday mornings for the Sarasota Farmers Market, so we're also working closely with Executive Director Phil Pagano and the Market to educate the public about the upcoming closure and alternative parking areas.

It will be a temporary inconvenience during the construction, which is expected to be substantially completed by February 2015.  When finished, our new State Street Garage will provide 395 new parking spaces, better than tripling the parking on site.

We encourage anyone with parking questions to contact our Parking Operations Division:  941-954-7057.
State St. Garage
The State Street Garage is expected to be substantially completed by February 2015.

By the Numbers:  Downtown Economics     Our Downtown Economic Development Coordinator, Norm Gollub, provided some very useful facts this week regarding our downtown economy.  Some of the highlights include:
  • 23,384  - Number of employees within a one mile radius of Lemon Ave. & Main St.
  • 1,755  -  Number of business licenses within the downtown CRA
  • 320,000 (at least) - Square feet of retail space along Main Street from Gulfstream to U.S. 301
  • 4  - Number of retail vacancies directly along Main Street
  • 2,492,482  -  Total square feet of office space in buildings with at least 300,000 sq. ft.

  • 11.7  -  Total vacancy rate in those buildings as of March 2014        

This information helps paint a picture regarding how we are performing as a mixed use downtown economic center.  It's very encouraging to know that just four retail stores are vacant along the entire stretch of Main Street, and our office vacancy rate is very competitive, although not as low as neighboring Lakewood Ranch, with newer space.  We will continue to pull together this kind of data to help us determine where gaps exist, so we can be strategic as we move forward with our downtown economic development.  


To see more downtown economic facts click here.  


Construction Update:  The Q     Progress continues with the construction of The Q development on Ringling Blvd. near the
The Q will include seven buildings and 40 condos. 
County Administration Building.  Four buildings are now underway, with seven total planned.  The development will feature 40 condominiums, meaning we soon will have more people living, shopping, eating and possibly working downtown, injecting even more vitality into the downtown urban core.  This is in addition to the other developments we've mentioned recently in Weekly Briefs, including The Jewel and six proposed hotels in the application and review pipeline. 

Construction Update:  Dolphin Tower   Hydro demolition inside Dolphin Tower on Gulfstream Ave. has been going on for a few weeks and now rehabilitation of the building has officially started.
Rehabilitation of Dolphin Tower is underway. 
  This is good news for the condo owners who were evacuated for safety reasons almost four years ago.  It's also good news for the continued vibrancy of our downtown.  Since June 2010, our Neighborhood and Development Services staff has worked closely with the condominium association regarding possible solutions for the unusual structural problems discovered within the building.  At this time, the $9 million construction project is expected to be completed without closing any streets or retail stores connected to the building.  This has been a long, arduous experience for the Dolphin Tower condo owners and we wish them a speedy and successful renovation.

Janie Poe Demolition   Demolition is well underway of the remaining buildings that once comprised the Janie Poe housing complex.  Four of the six buildings have been mitigated, then razed using heavy
Demolition is expected to be finished by June. 
machinery to knock down the concrete walls. Crews will continue the demolition and   hauling away the debris.  It's expected the site will be cleared by June.  Then, the Sarasota Housing Authority will be ready to move forward with Janie's Garden Phase III -- 72 market, affordable and subsidized units.  This is exciting progress to see in Newtown -- and good timing as the Newtown community celebrates its centennial as a neighborhood.      
Blue + You Inaugural Event    Word about SPD's new brand and marketing campaign, Blue + You, is spreading!  The inaugural Blue + You community event attracted a diverse crowd of 75-100 people last Blue + You Saturday night, including many families and children, for a free outdoor screening of 'Despicable Me 2'.  Plans for the next Blue + You movie are in the works right now
with a target date sometime in August.  We'll let you know when the date is confirmed.  In the meantime, the Ringling College of Art and Design students who created the new Blue + You brand will give a presentation to the City Commission on Monday, May 5th at 6 p.m. about their creative collaboration with SPD.
Blue + You
The inaugural Blue + You event attracted a diverse crowd of families.   
Celebrating Arbor Day   We continued our long standing tradition of celebrating Arbor Day with school children by planting three trees this morning at Brookside Middle School.  (Fortunately, the event was held before the stormy weather rolled in.)  Two live oaks and one shady lady black olive were donated and planted by Biological Tree Services.  Shovels in hand, students helped with the finishing touches. These new trees will add to our already extensive urban canopy, which has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the past 28 years.  Thanks to our Public Works General Manager and certified arborist Todd Kucharski for coordinating this worthwhile event once again this year. 
Arbor Day Celebration 
YouTube Video: Arbor Day celebration at Brookside Middle School.  
2014 Giving Challenge   Our local charitable organizations are gearing up for May 6-7.  That's when the 2014 Giving Challenge will take place and everyone can be a philanthropist.  Via computer and smart phone, you can donate funds to participating nonprofits with the opportunity for your selected organization(s) to earn a share of $450,000 in matching dollars and $225,000 in grant incentives.   Approximately 400 local nonprofits will participate, including the Van Wezel Foundation, which sponsors our Schooltime Performance Program and covers the costs of bringing thousands of children to the theater.

The Giving Challenge runs for 24 hours, from noon on May 6 until noon on May 7 and is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in partnership with The Patterson Foundation with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and the Charlotte Community Foundation.  Here's to a successful fundraising campaign for everyone who participates!  To learn more about the 2014 Giving Challenge and how you can get involved visit 

Upcoming Events

Classic Corvette Car Show    
 Sat., May 3 - 4 p.m.
St. Armands Circle Park

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel:

We're pleased to announce that our popular Friday Fest concert series will return once again this summer to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall!  Free outdoor concerts will be held at the Van Wezel on Sarasota Bay the fourth Friday in June, July, August and September.

Friday Fest - Free Outdoor Concert Series
  • June 27:  Yesterdayze
  • July 25:   Come Back Alice
  • August 22:  SoulRcoaster
  • September 26:  Adrian Ray 

The Friday Fest fun is 5 p.m. - 9 p.m., with bands taking the stage at 5:30 p.m.  Bring blankets and coolers, please. 

Tomorrow (Sat, May 3), I'll be providing an update to the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (CCNA) about projects we have in the pipeline.  The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Waldemere Fire Station, 2070 Waldemere St.

Thanks for reading this week's updates!  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox just send us an email at

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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