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Posts Tagged ‘Main Street’

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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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Andres Duany has been a polarizing figure in Sarasota ever since he and his firm helped author the downtown master plan in 2000. While some of his recommendations warrant criticism, it is probably more his demeanor that creates controversy. After all, Duany has referred to local governance in Sarasota as “ass-backwards” and “prissy,” among other things. Equal parts planner and provocateur, Duany (and his outsized personality) is largely responsible for building New Urbanism into both a legitimate force in planning and a divisive polemic.

Without agreeing with everything Duany has to say, we at Laurel Park Management support the tenets of New Urbanism and Duany’s efforts to apply them to Sarasota. We think walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, slower traffic, and better connectivity are great things. We think that downtown should continue to be Sarasota’s epicenter, and that there is work to be done to insure its future as such. And even the traditional architecture most commonly associated with New Urbanism is a natural fit for Laurel Park and the other historic neighborhoods of Sarasota, what with our history of Florida cracker bungalows. Again, without agreeing on every point, we think the man has provided a pretty good roadmap for Sarasota to follow.

Change is never easy. Especially in a place like Sarasota. It wasn’t so long ago that we were essentially a small village. It wasn’t so long ago that Siesta Key was a virtually uninhabited frontier, or that Bee Ridge was a barely-there path cutting through the wilderness. It was a special time in a special place, carefree and far removed from the responsibilities and troubles of city life. But we should all be careful not to gild the past too much. We shouldn’t forget that Sarasota was built by city people, with city money. That it supported a railroad. And that no matter how great the past was the future is always something different. Our task as a community is to thrive again in a new context, a more urban context, without losing some of those aspects of the past that we all remember so fondly. New Urbanism seems to be a good fit for such a future.

Laurel Park Management encourages residents to check out the master plan for downtown Sarasota and draw their own conclusions. We encourage you to walk around Laurel Park, Gillespie Park, Main Street, the bayfront…what do you see that moves you? That charms you? Where do you like to linger, or to meet friends? What paths do you seek out, and which ones do you avoid? Does the master plan speak to your concerns?

Duany might not be making too many friends by saying to our city, “I’m sorry, but you have to grow up,” but he has a point. That which doesn’t, dies. We do have to grow up, and we are. Growing pains are inevitable. But by embracing growth—maturation, not necessarily expansion—we can help guide the process. We will, however, have to abandon simple slogans and in-fighting (the “no boss mayor” campaign comes to mind). We can’t be one-issue voters. We will have to accept that Sarasota’s future will be more urban (and, consequently, urbane) than our past. We will have to treat each other and the issues at hand with respect and deep consideration.

It’s all well and fine for Duany to speak in sound bites; he is a public figure and a salesman for the ideology he helped coalesce. But let us be a bit more measured in our internal discussions while giving honest evaluations of the recommendations Duany has given us. By looking past the rhetoric, we might just find that the path to the future is right in front of us, and that it isn’t so scary after all.

For more from Duany, check out this recent article from metropolismag.com

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Sure, Laurel Park is a historic neighborhood known for its restored Arts & Crafts and Florida Cracker cottages and its proximity to Main Street and downtown Sarasota—not to mention Burns Square and the Sarasota Bayfront. And sure, as the epicenter of Florida’s cultural coast Sarasota is well known for its fine arts. But did you know that Laurel Park also boasts one of the best comics and gaming shops you’ll ever find? The Dark Side, located at 408 S. Washington Boulevard (in a small plaza alongside a yoga studio and barber shop, among several others) is both a comic book shop and the home of Sarasota’s biggest gaming community.

Creative Loafing recently tabbed The Dark Side the Best Gaming/Hobby Location on the Suncoast. Here’s what they had to say:

Looking for a great gaming and hobby destination that has something for everyone? Well, it is time to crossover to the Dark Side, Sarasota’s premier comic book and family gaming location. Visit the state of the art gaming center and play Heroclix, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, Xbox 360, Star Wars, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, or anything your gaming heart desires. You’ll also find a huge selection of back issues, graphic novels, games and collectibles of all flavors.

The Dark Side provides parking in a rear lot accessed via Julia Place. Of course, if you are fortunate enough to live in or near Laurel Park you can always reach them on foot or bike. Their phone number is 941-363-0840, and you can find The Dark Side online at darksidecomics.com. If you, your kids, or your grandkids are comic book or gaming enthusiasts, The Dark Side is not to be missed.

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The Box Social, Main Street Sarasota

Sarasota is many things to many people: a retirement community, an arts town, home to some of the best beaches anywhere. But a local movement is afoot that might just put Sarasota on the map as, of all things, a college town. New College of Florida is regularly ranked one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Ringling College of Art + Design has renowned animation and graphic design programs. East-West College trains students to become doctors of Eastern medicine. State College of Florida, formerly Manatee Community College, offers a vast array of affordable courses and programs that round out the local educational menu. Oh, and the Asolo Performing Arts Center is also home to Florida State University’s graduate theater arts program. This extraordinary post-secondary diversity has been gradually coalescing, and while I’m not sure any studies have been done to verify this, one gets the sense that more and more high school and college students and recent grads are deciding to stay in sunny Sarasota and put their stamp on the place.

Case in point: twentysomethings Rachel Withers and Ryan Baucom opened The Box Social on Main Street this winter, and have proven “the voice” from Field of Dreams prescient. They built a place for the young, the hip, and the socially inclined to call their own, and indeed they have come. Here’s an excerpt from an article on 83degreesmedia.com:

Anyone who has ever said, “There’s nothing going on in this town tonight,” has probably never been to The Box Social, a new gourmet pub and café conveniently located right in the heart of downtown Sarasota.

The Box, as it’s called by local patrons, hosts a variety of attractions that consistently draw large crowds, making it one of the most interesting and entertaining hot spots in Sarasota Mondays through Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Part coffee shop, part bar, part music venue, part art gallery, The Box stands as a beacon in the city, offering a cozy, yet bustling locale for members of the city’s unique creative community to gather, interact and exchange ideas and inspiration on a nightly basis.

But more than that, The Box is just one of Sarasota’s cool, independent establishments on a mission to unite, catalyze, reinvigorate and transform  a downtown core once best known for shuffleboard and bingo into a burgeoning urban landscape full of energy and diversity.

What’s really exciting is that The Box isn’t an isolated effort, nor the only local success story of its kind. Back in February, the Cock & Bull Pub hosted the Noise Ordinance CD Release Party. Here’s what the Sarasota Herald-Tribune had to say:

It was billed as the “Woodstock” of Sarasota. And it delivered.

If you missed Saturday’s “Noise Ordinance CD Release Party” then you missed an opportunity to catch the area’s hottest bands, and mingle with Sarasota’s glitterati.

Spanning more than 12 hours and featuring nearly 40 bands, the concert not only shined a bright light on area bands but was a rallying cry for the local music lovers.

The thing is, there’s no reason Sarasota can’t cater to retirees and youths alike, as well as everyone in between. Laurel Park Management is proud to support all facets of local culture, and we encourage college students and other young adults to come live downtown. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. And there really is an awful lot going on around here, most of which can be reached on foot or by bike from any of Laurel Park Management’s apartments. There’s music in the air and perhaps a bit of magic as well…come be a part of it!

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Main Street, Sarasota

February 20-21, 2010

Consistently ranked one of the top 100 Fine Art Shows by Sunshine Artist Magazine, the 22nd Annual Downtown Sarasota Festival of the Arts is one of the area’s biggest and best art events. The festival is held along Main Street in downtown Sarasota, spanning from 5 Points-Selby Park to Orange Avenue. Meet some of the best artists in the nation, displaying life-size sculptures, spectacular paintings, one-of-a-kind jewels, photography and more.

see more info at event website

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