Sarasota’s Planning Council on Wednesday recommended that the city reject plans for an apartment project north of the Rosemary District, citing concerns about affordable housing and the layout of the building’s design.
The developers at Lux on Tenth went to the town planning board to request a recommendation to rezone the property allowing them to develop up to 50 units per acre. The developers also asked the city to release an alley between 10th and 11th streets near Coconut Avenue to accommodate the site plan for the project.
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The town planning council neither approves nor rejects projects, but rather makes recommendations to the municipal commission.
Cincinnati-based Capital Investment Group, the promoter of the property, has tinkered with several lots in the 1000 block of Coconut Avenue which is bounded by 10th Street to the south, Coconut to the west, and Florida Avenue to the east. The property is slightly larger than 3 acres and just east of the Publix Super Market on Broadway Promenade.
The investment group offers a four-storey building, with on-site parking.
While the town planning council unanimously recommended approval of high-density multi-family zoning – which would be the first use of high-density zoning in the city – they denied other aspects of the project on a split vote 3-2. If the Municipal Commission follows the recommendation, it will send the proposal back to the drawing board to start the review process again.
“Nothing for the citizens”
The Planning Council took issue with the project for how it met affordable housing requirements, while citing concerns about the design of the building, which featured parking along Coconut Avenue and a filtered garbage collection site. also overlooking the busy artery.
Terill Salem, general contractor and member of the planning council, was the most articulate on the issue of affordable housing.
The project offers 47 affordable housing units, more than the 20 units required by the city. However, these affordable units would be divided into 18 studios, 20 one-bedroom units, and five two-bedroom apartments.
Salem suggested that the developer reduce the number of globally affordable units and instead offer more two-bedroom units as an option.
“It doesn’t matter to the citizens of Sarasota because we have families who return their housing vouchers… because they cannot find housing in Sarasota,” Salem said.
He also took issue with the average median income calculations used for the project. Sarasota’s average median income in 2020 was $ 76,700 for a family of four, according to a graph from city staff displayed at the meeting.
Some of the affordable units would allow the business to rent to tenants earning up to 120% of the area’s median income, or $ 91,800 for a family of four. Some units would be allocated to tenants earning 100% of the region’s median income and others would be reserved for people earning up to 80% of the median income.
Gregg Fusaro, a regional partner of Capital Investment Group, told the board that any adjustment to the composition of units should be assessed against its financial viability.
Michael Halflants, architect and member of the city’s planning council, recommended denial of the project on a design that would have the parking garage facing Coconut Avenue for approximately 120 feet, as well as a garbage collection site along of Coconut.
He estimated that the project could be moved so that most of the garages and garbage face a different street.
This design change would force the developer to return to the Development Review Committee, then later return to the Planning Council before eventually heading to the City Commission.
The board and developer have also argued over an alleyway in town that the company wants to free up.
Bill Partridge, owner of a property on the edge of the project, begged the city to vacate the lane, which he says has become a dumping ground for passengers and their trash. He said the homeless used the alley for drugs and other “unspeakable acts”.
“It’s no use for anything now,” he said. “It’s bad.”