SARASOTA, Fla. - The future State Street parking garage now has a heftier price tag. The City of Sarasota met with commissioners Monday to present the status of the project, which they say will now cost them $4 million more than originally expected.
The city says it will now cost over $11 million to construct the 400-space parking garage on the corner of State Street and Lemon Avenue, just one block off Main Street in downtown Sarasota.
The garage construction, originally estimated at $7 million dollars, is now causing controversy among locals who visit downtown often.
"I don't think it's a worthwhile situation to go and spend that kind of money," says resident Vince Cappelli. He believes the project will end up eventually costing the city residents.
Aileen Schuman and her husband say they are sad to see the downtown area changing. "I don't think it's necessary. We park here several times a week at least."
The city based their original estimates on the per-space averages of the parking garage on Palm Avenue and other national averages. "The budget that was established in 2010 was an early estimate, and this was a design-built process. So we didn't have any concepts drawn at that time," says chief planner Steve Stancel.
The city says the unusual and inefficient dimensions of the garage play the primary role in the drastic $4 million increase-, along with the type of construction materials and wider parking spaces.
"We're not just building a parking garage for the sake of parking; we're building 15,000 square feet of retail space on the bottom floor, we're building about 25,000 square feet of pad site. That's going to generate taxes jobs and that's going to be a big boost to the surrounding businesses as well," says Stancel.
Some local businesses agree and see the need for more parking. “Overall, in order to have a most vibrant city economically, we need to have parking. Parking is the main draw that brings people into a city," says downtown store owner Gerrie Laurino.
So how does the city plan to pay for the project? "Revenues or taxes received from the businesses in this district can be utilized for projects within the district, and so there are monies available in the taxing increment financing fund to cover the cost or most of the cost."
The city also plans to cover the cost of the $11 million project with the sale of the retail and pad space as well as the profit from the paid parking at the garage.
The city is obligated by an agreement they made with Pineapple Square to have the garage completed by February of 2015.