DID Restarts the Lights Downtown Program and Proposes Gateway Signage

Todays News

BY JOHN WITTE SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY JAN 7, 2020

The committee overseeing the allocation of funds for the Sarasota Downtown Improvement District (DID) is hoping to bring two major issues before the city commission. The DID was created November 2008, by City ordinance adopted by the Sarasota City Commission at the request of an ad hoc committee of downtown commercial property owners. The DID has a variety of goals, powers and authority granted in the ordinance to improve the Downtown Core of the City of Sarasota and is governed by a board of five members, who are non-residential property owners subject to ad valorem taxation within the District and are appointed by the city commission.

One of the earliest decisions the DID ever made was to build and maintain a series of tree lights on Palm Avenue, Lemon Avenue, State Street, Main Street and in Five Points park in early 2010. The program eventually lapsed, due to lack of funding for maintenance, but, as of this December, the DID has voted to restart the program. Lights have already been installed in Five Points park, with more forthcoming. After installation of the new lights and maintenance of the older ones, the cost is estimated to be roughly $250,000, according to the DID, who are still working to put the item on the City Commission agenda.

“With the addition of these lights, Downtown could become a real tourist attraction,” Operations Manager John Moran tells SRQ Daily.

The DID is also pushing to install a ‘Gateway Sign’ at the intersection of Main Street and North Tamiami Trail, as designed by local firm DSDG Architects for $150,000. The design, which was shared with SRQ Daily by the DID, is done in what John Moran referred to as the 'Sarasota style.’ “The purpose of the Downtown Improvement District, frankly, is to make property owners wealthy," says Moran.

The potential improvements to downtown’s profitability, safety and functionality are, of course, difficult to measure in terms of the return on investment but Moran feels that the commercial property owners that make up the DID (who are all stakeholders and owners of buildings downtown) have an intuitive sense of what will benefit the area, because of their personal investment in seeing it succeed.

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