Sarasota Sees Record Permit Applications



When the fiscal year ends at Sarasota City Hall next week, it will close the books on a record year in terms of development. As of Friday afternoon, some 8,102 permit applications had been submitted to the Neighborhood and Development Services Department, and officials are still taking in about 40 to 50 new requests every day. “This has been quite unbelievable for everybody,” said Gretchen Schneider, Planning and Development general manager. 

A celebration was held in the office Tuesday after the department pulled in its 8,000th application of the year, a first at City Hall. The activity continues a multiyear trend in terms of increased activity. In the 2013-14 Fiscal Year, the city pulled in a record 7,213 applications, and the prior year saw some 6,319 applications come in. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

The department handles permits for everything from major development projects to driveway permits, and the high number of applications reflects in growth in a variety of arenas. Schneider said there has been a substantial increase in the number of single-family home applications, but the city has also processed requests for commercial development, high-rises and hotel space as well. “Generally a high tide raises all boats,” she said. “Everything seems to be up.” The 8,102 permits as of Friday afternoon includes 93 for new homes, 1,286 for residential renovations, 855 for commercial renovations and 11 for new buildings, among other applications, according to Permitting Coordinator Joyce Williams.

Norm Gollup, Sarasota Economic Development director, said the news was good for business growth in the city all around. He’s happy to see hotels going up in Sarasota, a long-stated desire of economic officials, but sees the intense interest in residential development in the Rosemary District to be a plus as well. “Additional residents support existing and additional retail, and provide an employment base for companies locating here,” he said. “Each of these cannot operate in a vacuum.”

And while Sarasota sometimes gets criticized as a difficult place for developers to do business, Gollub noted that customer feedback at City Hall has been overwhelmingly complimentary as well. “There are relatively few people who are dissatisfied with the process,” he said. “The majority of customer comments have been very positive.”

Photo courtesy City of Sarasota. Neighborhood and Development Services staff celebrates accepting more than 8,000 permit applications.

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