Downtown group pushing for relocation of bus transfer station

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SARASOTA, Fla. - When downtown Sarasota's SCAT Transfer Station was built about ten years ago, concerns were raised over its location at the corner of Lemon Avenue and 1st Street. Now there's a movement aimed at relocating the station.

County commissioners are looking into moving the transfer station to a location just a mile away. SCAT is raising its concerns, but the Downtown Improvement District says it's time to move.

Ernest Ritz has lived across the street from the station for years and, says the bus station is located on a prime piece of property. "It's 18,000 square feet of unused real estate here in the heart of downtown."

Ritz is the chairman for the Downtown Improvement District and says that there are major growth opportunities in housing, retail and jobs that come with moving the station. "Now, it seems like we've outgrown this. It needs to be income producing. It needs retail."

Not only is the current size of the station an issue, but there is a lack of parking for travelers.

However, the majority of people using public transportation daily say this is centrally located for all of their needs. "This is where I go to the bank, the post office is here, and the cleaners is here," said one rider.

City commissioners and the Downtown Improvement District propose to move the station to the corner of Ringling Avenue and School Avenue, close to Payne Park.

In response to their proposal, SCAT's director sent a report to Sarasota County commissioners detailing four main concerns associated with that move. Among them: bus routes would change, land use and access would be impacted, parcel size, and limited parking. "There's really nowhere to park here. There's more parking over there because they have the courthouse over there and they've got the free parking over there."

This alternate location was an original consideration when the station was in planning, and some travelers feel the move would be positive. "It wouldn't bother me because there's a lot of things over in that area. The Health Department's over there."

We reached out to SCAT and county commissioners Monday, but they were unavailable for comment. However, the Downtown Improvement District plans to meet with commissioners Wednesday to discuss the proposal.