St. Armands

Residents Association

Fillmore Parking Lot

The following list documents the effort to put up a hotel complex on the Fillmore Parking Lot site, which is proposed to include a gourmet market (e.g. Morton's) and enough covered parking to replace what is there and to provide enough additional parking spaces for the hotel and market.

Note:  The City has a Coastal Islands Overlay District (click link) that controls commercial building height, density, etc... due to the environmentally sensitive nature of the City's keys and the limited access to them for emergency vehicles, hurricane evacuation, etc... 

1995

The City-owned Fillmore Drive parking lot came to be owned by the City in 1995. Before the parking lot was created, the land that is now the Fillmore lot consisted of two triangular shaped parcels with Fillmore Drive going diagonally straight through the site. A group of St. Armands commercial landowners contacted the owner of the property and began negotiating for its acquisition. The same group of landowners approached the City and expressed their interest in using the site for public parking for the businesses on St. Armands Circle. The City subsequently purchased the property in 1995.

The City financed the acquisition of the property by means of a special assessment that was levied on the properties within the Commercial Tourist zone district on St. Armands Key. The special assessment was collected over a twenty (20) year period from 1996 to 2016. The assessment was paid by the property owners in the form of an annual assessment added to property tax bills each year for the 20 year duration of the assessment.

Because of the high number of "triple net" leases on the Circle, in which such costs are passed on to the Lessee, it is probably fair to say that many of the business owners who were not property owners also participated in paying off the assessment, thus funding the acquisition of the Fillmore parking lot to be used for parking to support their businesses.

2008-2009

It has been reported to us that the JWM development group and their same architect wanted to put a boutique, five story hotel at this same site, with shops along the residential streets.  The neighbors expressed much concern and unhappiness with the idea of their residential street being commercialized, and the City Commission at that time listened to the residents and did not allow this idea to move forward.

April 2021

The JWM development group and their architect propose a hotel at the Fillmore Parking Lot site, to include a gourmet market (e.g. Morton's) and enough covered parking to replace what is there and to provide enough additional parking spaces for the hotel and market.  It becomes an unsolicited proposal to purchase the property.

May 17, 2021

City Commission Meeting at which they vote 4-1 (Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch voting "no") to instruct City Staff to work with the group proposing the development at the Fillmore Parking Lot site.

July 14, 2021

Memo from the City Attorney to the City Commission discussing the issues that would be involved with selling the Fillmore Parking Lot site.

August 16, 2021

City Commission Meeting at which they vote to give anyone else 90 days to submit a proposal for the Fillmore Parking Lot site, after which they intend to select a proposal to move forward with.  This despite significant resident opposition to the proposal and to the process.

    • Link to video: click here
    • FAST FORWARD TO: 59:33 (59 minutes, 33 seconds)
    • Discussion lasts nearly two hours!

It seems that any offer made to the City must be contingent on at least these three things happening:

    1. Changing the lot zoning from "parking lot" (G) to "commercial property" (CT),
    2. Replacing the revenue from the existing 270-or-so paid parking spaces required by the bond covenant for the St. Armands parking garage, and
    3. Depending on the proposal:  increasing the allowed building height, allowing hotel and residential use in the commercial property (CT) zone, and increasing the density of that use from what otherwise would be allowed. Any of these zoning changes would require a comprehensive plan change.

September 22, 2021

Memo from the City Attorney to the City Commission discussing how the existing 268 parking spaces on and around the Fillmore Parking Lot have to be retained by the City per the municipal bond that was issued to fund the St. Armands Parking Garage.

October 1, 2021

Memo from the City Manager to the City Commission with further information about the cost and legal implications of selling the Fillmore Parking Lot property.

October 4, 2021

City Commission meeting at which the City Attorney and City Manager explain their concerns about the City's obligation to maintain the parking spaces at the Fillmore Parking Lot site.  No vote was taken.

    • Link to video: click here
    • Fast forward to 3:07:00 (3 hours, 7 minutes, 0 seconds)

Note:  During public feedback, Tom Leonard, owner of Shore restaurant and clothing store on St. Armands and Longboat, begins to present a competing offer and development proposal for the Fillmore Parking Lot site, but he is cut short because of the three minute time restriction.  We look forward to hearing more about this soon.

September-October, 2021

2021 Member Survey Results

Question #1. Would you like the City Commission to sell the St. Armands Fillmore Parking Lot site to the development group who is proposing to build a boutique hotel there, along with a food market (similar to Morton's Gourmet Market on Osprey) and a parking garage? (n=125)

Yes:  37%

No:  42%

I don't know and/or I need more information:  22%

Our interpretation of these results:  More respondents oppose this development than support it, but it's roughly 50/50 with a sizable number who still need more information and/or time to make up their mind.  For a project that could have a significant and long-term impact on the residential experience in our neighborhood, we think the City should take more time to consider and debate this proposal.

Question #2. Commercial property owners on St. Armands are asking the City to increase the allowed height of commercial buildings from 35' to 45' and to allow the use of residences and boutique hotels on the upper levels. This would be on top of the 11' flood plain resulting in buildings that could be over 55' in height from grade. Do you support or oppose this?

Support:  25%

Oppose:  75%

Our interpretation of these results:  A strong majority of St. Armands residents to NOT want a commercial height increase.  And, now that at least three independent competing proposals have come in, none of which have requested a height increase to build a profitable development there, this seems completely unnecessary.

November 15, 2021

The City's deadline for competing proposals to be submitted.  There are five proposals in all:  JWM, Hyde, Jebco, Ocean/OPAL, and Leonard/Shore. (click the links to view the submissions)

November 18, 2021

January 12, 2022

January 19, 2022

New memo from City Attorney in the Agenda Backup Materials for the upcoming February 7 City Commission Meeting:  click here

February 1, 2022

Letter from our Association to the City Commission:  click here

To summarize this letter:

    • Based on the results from our recent Annual Member Survey and our interpretation of those results, we OPPOSE the proposed development at the Fillmore Parking Lot.
    • If the City chooses to proceed anyway, then residents would prefer any proposal that does not require a commercial height increase; residents would prefer any proposal other than the JWM-Benderson proposal.

February 7, 2022

The City Commission voted 4-1 to NOT move forward with the sale of the Fillmore Parking Lot at this time.

  But, this is not over. Now that the issues involved with the sale and development of the property have been more thoroughly and openly vetted (the parking garage bond obligations and the required zoning and comprehensive plan changes), there is nothing to stop any of the original proposers (or any new proposer) from coming back to the City with a new or updated offer for the City's consideration.

    • Link to video:  click here
    • For the City Attorney's Opening Remarks, fast forward to 1:05 (1 hour, 5 minutes)
    • For Public Comment, fast forward to 1:28 (1 hour, 28 minutes)
    • For comments from the five proposers, fast forward to 1:46:50 (1 hour, 46 minutes, 50 seconds)
    • Then there was a one hour break for lunch beginning at 2:12:25 (2 hours, 12 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • The meeting resumes with City Commission discussion at 3:14:48 (3 hours, 14 minutes, 48 seconds) 
    • For the City Commission motion, final comments, and 4-1 vote to NOT move forward, fast forward to 4:13:40 (4 hours, 13 minutes, 40 seconds)
    • This agenda item took just over two hours after accounting for the one hour break for lunch

February 8, 2022

February 9, 2022

April 13, 2022

At a regular meeting of the St. Armands Business Improvement District, BID member, former BID chairperson, and Fillmore Lot development proposer Gavin Meshad says "I'm not out on the Circle very often, so I'm not in tune with what's working and not working".

    • Fast forward to 43:28 (0 hours, 43 minutes, 28 seconds)



St. Armands Residents Association

P.O. Box 2482, Sarasota, FL  34230

e-mail us at: st.armands.residents.assn@gmail.com

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