By Rachel Hackney Brown, SarasotaNewsLeader.com
Given the Second District Court of Appeal ruling for Sarasota County this summer in the Siesta Promenade lawsuit, the SNL took the opportunity to ask county staff about the status of the mixed-use development planned for the northwest quadrant of the Stickney Point Road/U.S. 41 intersection.
On Aug. 6, county Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester, reported that no site and development materials had been filed with the county’s Land Development Division, which is part of the Planning and Development Services Department.
Siesta 41 Associates is the Benderson Development Co. affiliate that actually is overseeing Siesta Promenade.
“From the planning side,” Winchester continued, Benderson representatives did participate in a pre-application meeting on July 17. However, he wrote, “[T]hey have not requested a Neighborhood Workshop as of yet.”
On Dec. 12, 2018, the County Commission approved the plans for 414 apartments/condominiums, a 130-room hotel designed to stand 80 feet tall, 133,000 square feet of retail space and 7,000 square feet of office space for Siesta Promenade.
Sura Kochman, who lives in the Pine Shores Estates neighborhood next to the project site, filed suit against the county in January 2019. After losing at the 12th Judicial Circuit Court level last year, she appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal, which has offices in Lakeland and Tampa.
On June 23, the attorneys conducted oral arguments with three Appeal Court judges via virtual meeting technology, a precaution taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During neighborhood workshops held years ago to explain Benderson’s proposal for Siesta Promenade, Todd Mathes, the company’s director of development, talked of hopes to secure a contract with a major grocer for a store that would occupy part of the retail space within Siesta Promenade. However, the longer the pandemic has been underway, with negative effects on the economy, the more national retailers of various types have filed for bankruptcy.
Tourism also has been depressed, with county accommodations in June reporting a 20% decline in occupancy and hoteliers marking a 24.2% drop in the number of rooms sold, according to figures the county’s tourism office, Visit Sarasota County, has reported.