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Archive for the ‘Downtown Sarasota’ Category

Sarasota Modern [click image for source]

Our last post spoke briefly about Sarasota’s rich tradition of modern architecture—in Burns Court, on Lido Shores and Siesta Key, and scattered throughout downtown Sarasota. In case you might want to go check out some of these landmarks yourself, below is some info on a self-guided tour. We can’t guarantee that the guides are still available, but we have definitely seen them around. Anyhow, happy hunting!

With a daily heat index in the triple digits here, an architectural tour that lets you stay in your air-conditioned vehicle sounds pretty good. That’s what Sarasota is offering now, a self-guided drive-by of significant buildings in Sarasota County that features the famous Sarasota School of Architecture, bracketed by older historic buildings and contemporary ones. • For $10, you get a map with more than 70 locations and an explanatory booklet. The estimated time for the tour is about two hours. • The catch is that many are not open to the public, such as the two residences shown, so you’ll only be able to see what’s visible from the street. Still it’s a nice introduction to an area that has some of the richest architectural history on the west coast of Florida. And now that many of the remaining Sarasota School of Architecture buildings, built from 1940 to 1970, have been torn down or are in danger of demolition (including some by its most famous practitioner, Paul Rudolph), this could be a chance to see them before they’re gone. • The map is available at the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, 701 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, or it can be ordered online at toursarasota.com.

Lennie Bennett, Times art critic (info from tampabay.com)

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Sarasota is either a big town or a small city, depending I guess on how you define the terms, but it certainly isn’t a metropolis. Which, of course, is one of the things we like about it. Something else we like about it is its impressive architectural heritage, one made especially impressive by its relatively small size. It even has an eponymous style of architecture, the “Sarasota School,” or “Sarasota Modern,” pioneered by well-known modernists including Paul Rudolph, Ralph Twitchell, Victor Lundy, Philip Hiss, and Gene Leedy. Examples can be found at Lido Shores, in Burns Square, and scattered around the rest of downtown Sarasota.

Add to its modern legacy an older, more vernacular (and ever charming) one of so-called Florida Cracker bungalows, like the ones we rent here at Laurel Park Management, and Sarasota punches above its weight class. For those of us who truly love quality Sarasotan architecture, the kind that people will be proud to live or work in 100 years from now, that passersby will stop to admire, that students will study, it hurts to see how many disposable buildings have also sprung up. The strip-malls and such, buildings raised to make a buck and little else. So we were thrilled to discover another small city with an elevated architectural pedigree. Looks like we need to step up our game…

Columbus, Ind., looks like any other small town, with its small shops and restaurants. But what sets this town apart is its architecture.

The Modernist buildings — mostly geometric and made of glass and steel — are not immediately visible, interspersed as they are with old, 19th-century, gingerbread-like structures; but more than 60 public buildings in Columbus have been built by a veritable who’s who of modern masters — I.M. Pei, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Robert Venturi and James Polshek, to name a few.

In 1991, the American Institute of Architects rated Columbus sixth on its list of the top 10 American cities for architectural quality and innovation, right up there with Chicago, New York and San Francisco. That’s pretty amazing for a town of just 44,000 residents. Six of the city’s modern buildings have also been designated as national historic landmarks, and enough people travel from nearby towns and states — and even other countries — to see them that the local visitors center gives walking tours.

One such tour takes you past a large, arch-like sculpture by English artist Henry Moore. It sits across from a library designed by architect I.M. Pei and built in 1969. The building’s facade is made of brick with nearly invisible mortar — Pei mixed red brick dust into the white mortar to make it blend in.

The first modern building in Columbus is opposite the library. Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen built the First Christian Church in 1942. Grim and factory-like, the church has a tall, rectangular tower and small, rectangular windows. It helped launch a local design revolution that World War II promptly put on hold. Then, in the 1960s, thanks to some design-conscious decisions by the biggest business in town, the architectural revolution soared, with schools, fire stations, an all-glass bank, a courthouse, city hall, a world-class golf course and a jail — a really attractive jail.

As tour guide Bob Bishop puts it, “This is Columbus. We don’t build anything that isn’t attractive.” continue reading at npr.org

Wouldn’t this be a great mantra for Sarasota to adopt, and adhere to? We certainly have enough historic precedent to know good architecture when we see it.

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One of the true pleasures of living in Laurel Park is the independence from cars that it offers. In Laurel Park we can walk. We can bike. We can hop the bus. And we can get pretty much anywhere we need to be without the hassle  and expense of driving, and with the joy of activating our muscles in the fresh air. But more than just the freedom of movement and the improved health—personal benefits—there is a sense of community in Laurel Park that is difficult, if not impossible to find, in more car-dependent neighborhoods.

We know each other here because we see each other. We pass each other’s houses and apartments, wave or nod at a neighbor on a porch, let our dogs introduce themselves and us in turn. And we talk. We tell each other of exhibitions at art galleries or of a morning stroll on the beach. We argue about politics, local and national. We complain about roads and we propose that a little common sense could solve all the problems of the world. We build community.

The article excerpted below is about people choosing to live car-free in Los Angeles. It made us smile, because this is already how we live in Laurel Park.

Los Angeles once showed the world that the car equaled freedom. Our vast parking lots and spacious two-car garages offered the utmost convenience. Even our roads were named after the idea—freeways—that automobiles provided this feeling of independence as a personal transportation experience. It worked for awhile. That is, until those painted lanes choked with Sigalerts and gas nosed towards $5.00 per gallon.

“The freeways are not so nice!” howls Eddie Solis, [a musician and part of] the small but growing group of Angelenos who are choosing not to drive a car, and swearing that their lives are better for it.

Solis ditched his car for financial reasons but quickly started to see that living car-free offered a new creative outlet for his music. “Just through sitting on the bus or subway, I’d see the city from a new perspective, that of a bus rider, as a public transportation advocate. I was seeing different walks of life come on and off [the buses], and I would go through neighborhoods that I didn’t think had anything I was interested in, and I started getting inspired.” His most recent album, The New Los Angeles, is all about that idea of freedom that he started to feel. “For the people I hear who have to commute by car, it’s always a chore,” he says. “And I’m just freely moving back and forth, seven days a week. I’m very happy about it, and it’s a huge inspiration to me.”

I wasn’t able to find any definitive studies on how many Angelenos are choosing to live car-free…[but] anecdotally, I can say that I’m hearing a lot more stories like that of Peter Zellner, a Venice-based architect, who  swapped his two vintage diesel Mercedes Benzes earlier this year for a 1974 Schwinn beach cruiser and a single-speed racing bike. He says not driving is a better fit for his personality. “I have become a cycling fanatic,” says Zellner. “I love my bike, it’s like an extension of me, maybe more so than a car ever was.”

The effects have been more than just the financial boost that comes with shedding a problematic vehicle—Zellner has seen serious health benefits. “In short order I stopped driving, stopped smoking and then stopped drinking!” he says. “I have lost 15 pounds since I started cycling everywhere, I have more time to read and think when I am on the bus and I am never stressed out by traffic.” keep reading at GOOD.is

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A couple posts back we highlighted the success of the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Since then we’ve noticed numerous articles about street art, about how cities are embracing street art as part of larger urban regeneration efforts. A recent one from gristexplores Baltimore’s big push to make the city a living museum.

What about Sarasota? We already have the chalk festival, the new parking garag

e downtown with its murals, and a history of art from the Ringling Museum to Ringling School of Art + Design to Towles Court. What if the city inventoried volunteers willing to offer the walls of their buildings as urban canvases? What if international artists were invited to join local artists in a citywide exhibition, say a week-long art festival during which residents and visitors could watch the artists complete their work, engage in discussions about art and urban space and community, and even participate in workshops given by the artists? Would a Sarasota overflowing with street art be a more beautiful city? A more dynamic city? A more attractive city for creatives?

An excerpt from the article on Baltimore:

Street artists from around the world are descending on Baltimore this spring to take part in an ambitious — and totally legal — exhibition, producing murals for an event designed to bring new life to a transitional neighborhood.Launched this month and running through the end of May, Open Walls Baltimore is the city’s first officially sanctioned street art exhibition. Twenty walls throughout the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will serve as backdrops for murals that will be created over the course of several weeks. The walls to be painted are a mix of both private homes and commercial buildings, and represent both occupied and vacant structures. “It’s a mus

eum for street art,” says the artist Gaia, who is curating the event.It’s hard to pinpoint when, exactly, street art tipped from illegal enterprise to mainstream arts activity, but it’s safe to say that it was in the groundwater by May 2007 when the anonymous street artistBanksy earned a profile in The New Yorker and people like Brad Pitt started collecting street art. Cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, London, Barcelona, and others have appropriated what was once an illegal art form for economic revitalization purposes.

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“You go to the Wynwood [neighborhood in Miami] because you want to see a Shepard Fairey,” Gaia says. “You want to see artwork that has established some fame and recognition and has become a gem. The art there is raising property values.”

Open Walls is not seen as a panacea for a struggling neighborhood, rather it’s happening in concert with a number of other endeavors. In Station North there is new affordable live/work space for artists, and a new Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School. An abandoned clothing factory will soon be home to a design school for public middle and high school students, and nearby MICA, a private arts college, is investing heavily in the area. Slowly but surely, businesses are returning, coffee shops are opening, theaters and galleries are welcoming patrons.

keep reading at grist.org

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Bike racks in Long Beach

Bike racks in Long Beach help attract customers to local businesses.

One of the truly encouraging trends we’ve seen the past few years is the gradual uptick in urban cycling around Sarasota. Many new bicycle parking racks have been installed and people are slowly catching on to the fact that the bike may just be the best way to get around the downtown area. Plus, the sight, smell, and sound of people riding bikes and walking is just so much more pleasant than those of cars, especially on Main Street. Even during a severe economic downtown, life in the heart of our fair city has become more vibrant, not less.

An article crossposted on Grist and The Nation took a look at Long Beach, California, as it works to better integrate the bicycle as a regular means of transport. Like Sarasota, Long Beach has a climate that accommodates year-round cycling (the only thing required in SRQ during the worst heat of summer is more shade from street trees), a high number of older and retired residents, and way too much traffic. That is changing, slowly but surely, in Long Beach and perhaps in Sarasota as well. Why? Well, besides being good for quality of life, bikes are good for business.

Of course, there are still plenty of cars in Long Beach…but bicycles are getting more respect, not to mention resources, than ever before. With help from state and federal grants and pressure from local cycling enthusiasts, the city government has installed 130 miles of bike trails, established protected bike lanes (that is, lanes separated from vehicular traffic by physical barriers) on major commuter thoroughfares, created bike boulevards that enable kids and parents to bike or walk safely to and from school, and installed 1,200 new bike racks.

Perhaps most innovative has been the city’s effort to establish bike-friendly shopping districts — the first in the country, officials say — engaging local merchants by showing them how, contrary to common belief, biking can actually bring more customers and vitality to shopping districts.

“The math is pretty simple,” says April Economides, the principal of Green Octopus Consulting and the leader of the city’s outreach to local businesses. “You can park 12 bikes in the amount of space it takes to park one car. And someone who shifts from owning a car to a bicycle tends to have more discretionary income, because, for a commuter, the typical cost of a bicycle is $300 a year, compared to $7,000 a year for a car.”

Separated bike lane in Stockholm, Sweden. Where the weather isn't nearly so favorable for cycling.

Besides putting extra money in your pocket, pedaling more and driving less makes it easier to remember why you chose to live in paradise in the first place.

“I like a line by Aristotle, ‘Beware the barrenness of a busy life,’” Long Beach mayor Bob Foster says. “Sometimes I can’t remember at the end of a day what I did the past eight hours. That’s moving too fast. A bit slower pace in life is a good thing.”

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This post is a bit long in coming, but check out the pics of the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Art Festival below. For those of us who were there, it’s a nice reminder of how quickly the event has grown. For those of you who weren’t…well, don’t miss it in 2012! Sarasota has a long history as a haven for artists, and the Chalk Festival is part of downtown Sarasota’s burgeoning street art scene (more on that in upcoming posts). More photos can be found here. The festival home page is chalkfestival.com

2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival Announces Circus City Theme!!

The 2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival theme will bring us back to the 1920′s when the serene seaside shores of Sarasota became Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey’s Circus winter home and became known as “Circus City, USA”.

A time when residents would glow with anticipation as the trains rolled into town carrying circus families from around the world along with their elaborate costumes, massive tents and exotic animals to practice their fearless acts.

The Sarasota Chalk Festival hosted the most important contemporary street painting venue in the world last year (2011 Pavement Art Through the Ages) with over 250 of the most renowned artists participating for the first time in one location and 200,000 visitors attending. Local artists were joined by artists from all over America as well as international artists from Australia, Italy, Canada, Spain, Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Peru, France, Brazil and Germany. (more info at the official website)

Juandres Vera, of Mexico, finishes his submission for the 3D Pavement Art category at the 2011 Sarasota international Chalk Festival.

A chalk mosaic pays homage to modern collages made from hundreds of digital photos. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

One artist blends past and future with an homage to apples and Apple products. Sarasota, Fla. officials estimate over 100,000 visitors attended the free festival. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

Wide-pan view of the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Festival. The festival’s end on Nov. 7 saw a high-pressure street washer wipe all the art away, leaving only photos through which to remember the gallery. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

This LEGO terracotta army was inspired by the giant LEGO man found on a Sarasota beach, as well as the Terracotta warriors of ancient China. (Zinnia Jones/Flickr)

The finished LEGO terracota army by Planet Streetpainting of the Netehrlands. (Zinnia Jones/Flickr)

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Great article about the economics of mixed-use development, something we’re always pushing here at Laurel Park Management. Mixed-use helps makes places walkable and livable. It helps make them better, more beautiful, and more vibrant. So, naturally, it provides an economic boon as well. What’s more, the study below was also performed in Sarasota:

Are cities across the country acting negligently in ignoring the property tax implications of different development types? Joseph Minicozzi thinks so, and he’s done the math to prove it.

The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality.
— Andrew Jackson

Downtown Pays
Asheville, North Carolina — like many cities and towns around the country — is hurting financially.

It’s not that Asheville is some kind of deserted ghost town. Rather, it’s a picturesque mountain city with a population of about 83,000 that draws tourists from all over the world, especially during the leaf-peeping season. But it’s also a city that appeals to its residents, who revel in strolling about a true walkable downtown chock-full of restaurants and retail shops featuring locally grown and crafted products. Downtown is not only one of Asheville’s main draws; it also serves as a major driver in helping the city overcome its budgetary doldrums.

Most of us – city planners, elected officials, business owners, voters, and the like – understand that the city brings in more tax revenue when people shop and eat out more. However, we often overlook the scale of the property tax payoff for encouraging dense mixed-use development.

Many policy decisions seem to create incentives for businesses and property developers to expand just about anywhere, without regard for the types of buildings they are erecting. In this article, I argue that the best return on investment for the public coffers comes when smart and sustainable development occurs downtown.

We’ll use the city of Asheville as an example. Asheville realizes an astounding +800 percent greater return on downtown mixed-use development projects on a per acre basis compared to when ground is broken near the city limits for a large single-use development like a Super Walmart. A typical acre of mixed-use downtown Asheville yields $360,000 more in tax revenue to city government than an acre of strip malls or big box stores.

If you were a mayor or city councillor facing a budget crisis, this comparison should serve as an eye-opener, both in terms of your policies and your development priorities. The comparison should also get you thinking about not just how you could encourage more downtown development, but also what kind of development could increase the value of buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods.

It’s not just officials in Asheville who should be asking these questions. In the growing number of diverse cities where we have studied this same equation (such as Billings, MT, Petaluma, CA, and Sarasota, FL) we’ve found that the same principle applies: downtown pays. It’s simple math. keep reading at planetizen.com

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