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SRQ DAILY May 28, 2018

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition

"By losing that project, it sucked the wind out of things right at the time everything was falling apart with the economy"

- Diana Hamilton, Sarasota activist

[Development]  Decade-Old Palm Avenue Decision Looms
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

One of the most controversial issues in front of Sarasota city officials a decade ago has turned into a $49.8 million problem for officials today. Developers behind a proposal for a hotel and parking garage on Palm Avenue won a jury trial that alleged city commissioners backed out of an understood contract and left the Buck Leiter Group on the hook for a project already well underway.

The developers had been selected through a proposal process to build in the first phase of the plan a 453-space parking garage, 140-room hotel and 18,500 square feet of new retail, with plans for more condo units and parking spaces to come. While the deal involved 83 percent of investment in the garage to come from the developer, due to shifting interest rates and the financial market, changes to the arrangement were proposed that would greatly reduce what the developer chipped in on the garage. An article in The SRQ Journal at the time reported an estimated 54-percent of the garage cost would fall on the developer.

Officials with the Buck-Leiter Group did not return calls for comment. But in court filings, the development group noted it won a bid process in 2007. Filings for the plaintiff say much of the change in the financial proposal stemmed from the city’s misunderstanding of whether bonds would be taxable. In 2008, new City Manager Bob Bartolotta called the proposal “unacceptable” and recommended commissioners shoot it down. In July, they did. 

The move soured many downtown leaders at the time. “By losing that project, it sucked the wind out of things right at the time everything was falling apart with the economy,” says Diana Hamilton, who ran the City Life group with developer Matt Leiter and favored the project. “It was bad for the city and it set us back further than we would already have been.”

Former City Commissioner Kelly Kirschner says officials faced lobbying at the time to stick with the proposal, the fourth proposal over 20 years for a public-private partnership to develop the Palm Avenue project. “There was a lot of pressure for us to get that deal done,” Kirschner says. “I don’t think anybody on the commission wanted that project to fail.” But he said the change in the contract was too big a problem, and the city’s own finance leaders called it unworkable. Kirschner ultimately was part of a 3-2 vote to end the arrangement with Buck-Leiter. He stressed nobody at the time, including Buck-Leiter attorneys, questioned if the city had the ability to sever the deal.

Attorney Morgan Bentley, who represented the city in the suit, says no arrangement ever got finalized, so there was no contract to breach. The city in fact won this lawsuit in summary judgment after Buck-Leiter first filed it. But an appeals court said there was some financial arrangement and kicked it back to the lower court for a jury to weigh in. The jury found in the developer's favor. The hefty dollar amount was calculated based on profits lost for the developer over the decade in which a hotel could have been in operation, according to Bentley.

No members of the current City Commission served on the board in 2008, and all said they were still getting up to speed on trial details. Bartolotta no longer works with the city, and City Manager Tom Barwin started at the city in 2012. Bentley said the decision will be appealed and questions both whether Buck-Leiter had any type of contract with the city and whether damages accounting for lost profits would be appropriate. A nearly $50-million judgment against the city could impact budget decisions for years, officials acknowledge. But Bentley expects this case in appeal to go for at least another few years.

The site today houses a city-owned garage and the Art Ovation hotel. 

Pictured: Rendering of Buck-Leiter proposal as shown in edition of The SRQ Journal.

[Government]  Two Openings on Manatee County Preservation Board

Manatee County is accepting applications for two positions on the Historic Preservation Board, a citizens advisory committee that makes decisions regarding Manatee County’s archaeologically, historically and aesthetically significant sites, districts and zones. Applicants must be registered voters in Manatee County. Candidates should have knowledge of archaeological, historical or architectural development, or a deep concern for the preservation, development and enhancement of historic resources in the County. The Historic Preservation Board is composed of five volunteer members who are appointed by the County Commission for four-year terms. The group meets a minimum of four times a year. The board’s responsibilities include: encouraging historical and archaeological preservation; identifying historic buildings and sites and archaeological sites in Manatee County; encouraging property owners to seek local historic landmark designation; ensuring appropriate preservation, restoration, renovation, development and adaptive reuse of historical buildings and archaeological sites; and developing and maintaining a system of survey and inventory of historic properties. Applications are due June 22, and may be found online at the website below. 

Manatee County Historic Preservation Board Application

[Education]  Third Grade FSA ELA Testing Results Are In

More than 3,300 third grade students in Sarasota County participated in the April 2018 Florida Standards Assessment. The results reported are based on all students tested and include students with disabilities and English Language Learnings (ELL), as well as retained third grade students. For the 2017-18 school year, proficiency rates in Sarasota County are 11 percentage points higher than the state in English Language Arts. A comparison between the test scores for 2017 and 2018 indicates that both the state and Sarasota County third grade student averages decreased. Sarasota County Schools remains tied for 5th out of 67 school districts in the state of Florida for third grade FSA ELA assessments. According to the Florida Department of Education, Florida’s K-12 assessment system measures students’ achievement of Florida’s education standards. Assessment supports instruction and student learning, and test results help Florida’s educational leadership and stakeholders determine whether the goals of the education system are being met. 

FSA ELA Test Results

[Healthcare]  Blake Names Fleck 2018 Doctor of the Year

Blake Medical Center has announced the recipient of the 2018 Doctor of the Year as anesthesiologist Melissa Fleck, MD, an admired and highly respected member of the Blake Medical Center family. Nominations were sent from patients, nurses and fellow physicians. Fleck, a Bradenton native, returned to her hometown and joined Blake Medical Center in 2003 after attending medical school and completing her residency at the University of South Florida. She is a board-certified anesthesiologist with the West Florida Anesthesia Consultants Group. She is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Florida Society of Anesthesiologists and the Manatee County Medical Society. 

Blake Medical Center

[Expansion]  Sunnyside Village Breaks Ground on New Medical Center

Sunnyside Village has broken ground for the construction of Sunnyside’s new and expanded health, rehabilitation, and memory care center. The two-story, 44,326-square-foot structure will add private room accommodations for rehabilitation patients and long-term skilled nursing residents. The Sunnyside Therapy Center will also reside in the new building and will feature state-of-the-art equipment, including an indoor therapy pool. The new and expanded health and rehabilitation center will feature: 50 private and 10 semi-private rehabilitation and nursing rooms; 18 private assisted living memory care rooms; inpatient and outpatient therapy center open to the public; state-of-the-art physical and occupational therapy gym; indoor therapy pool; and more. The new building site is located on Sunnyside’s existing property next to its current health and rehabilitation center. The project is designed by SFCS Architects and overseen by General Contractor McIntyre, Elwell, and Strammer. The overall project cost is estimated around $20 million with the new addition expected to be complete in the fall of 2019. The renovation of the existing health center building and memory care portions are slated for completion in 2020. 

Sunnyside Village

[TODAY]  SPORTS: Sarasota Tarpon Tournament , May 12 – June 17

The Sarasota Tarpon Tournament will take place from May 12-June 17 celebrating the start of Tarpon Season and 88 continuous years of sanctioned competition. For an entry fee of just $125, anglers not only compete for an overall winner category, but also, weekly, junior, ladies, and ‘his & hers’ categories. Weekly winners and winners of the two additional categories will all compete in a 2-day Fish-Off weekend to determine overall winner whose name is inscribed on the historic trophy. A kick-off party will be held on May 9 at White Buffalo Saloon featuring live music, great food and a cash bar.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Always...Patsy Cline , May 30 – July 1

A tuneful and memorable tribute, Patsy Cline's rise to legendary stardom is told through the eyes of her biggest fan, Louise Seger. From her performances in honky-tonks to the Grand Ole Opry, Patsy Cline will "always" have a place in country music, with hit songs such as, “Walking After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “Sweet Dreams,” and many more you know and love.

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota.

[SOON]  THEATER: Menopause the Musical , May 30 – June 10

Inspired by a hot flash and a bottle of wine, writer Jeanie Linders created Menopause The Musical® as a celebration of women who find themselves at any stage of “The Change.” Set in a department store where four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra meet by chance at a lingerie sale, the all-female cast makes fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges. 

Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. West, Bradenton

[SOON]  THEATER: The Twenty-Third Annual Loveland Show–Unplugged: The Best Day of Your Life! , May 31 – June 3

Venice Theatre and the Loveland Center have been partnering for 20 years to provide adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities the chance to grow and learn through theatre study. Loveland students, under the direction of professional staff and with help from community volunteers, rehearse all season to present this full-scale musical on MainStage.

Venice Theatre, 140 Tampa Ave West, Venice

[SOON]  FOOD: Reserve Spring and Summer Wine Tastings , May 31, 6pm

Come through the Reserve to help them fine tune their retail wine selection. Wines from a wide array of places such as France, Italy, Argentina and more are offered. Pair the wine with a savory meat and cheese platter and enjoy the low key evening. The event is reoccuring, so May 31 is not the last chance to take advantage of this wonderful deal.

The Reserve SRQ, 1322 North Tamiami Tr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Free Performance by Reggie Harris and Sarah Gancher , June 1, 7:00pm

Join the Retreat in welcoming Kennedy Center Teaching Artist Reggie Harris and Playwright Sarah Gancher as they share their work and spread knowledge of American history through song; Harris will share and explain secret code songs used by runaway slaves and their allies during the time of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, and Gancher will share a scene or two from the play she is writing for the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

Hermitage Artist Retreat, 6660 Manasota Key Rd., Englewood

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: World Oceans Day , June 2, 10:00am-1:00pm

A worldwide ocean celebration is on the horizon. Join the fun during the World Oceans Day Family Festival on Saturday, June 2 at Mote Aquarium. Mote’s World Oceans Day event will spotlight the ocean's deep connection to the human spirit and the boundless inspirational power of our natural world's greatest resource. The family festival is free with regular paid admission to Mote Aquarium and is free for Mote Members.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium , 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: All About Women Expo , June 3, 12pm–5pm

Experience a day of pampering for women with four featured areas that host Beauty, Wellness, Fashion and Girls Wanting to Have Fun. Enjoy make-up and hair care techniques, massages, sample products, talk to doctors and health professionals, watch a fashion show and more, all for free. Register to have access to the VIP area with wine tastings, a painting class, photo booth, appetizers and everyone receives a glam bag full of swag.

Westfield Sarasota Square Mall, 8201 South Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Music Festival , June 4 – June 23

Classical musicians from around the world converge for three weeks of breathtaking concerts, featuring artists such as Vijay Venkatesh and Robert Sirota.

Sarasota Orchestra, Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  SPORTS: 2nd Annual Big Run 5K for Global Running Day , June 6, 6pm

Fleet Feet Sports Sarasota, the local retail leader in building and supporting the Sarasota running and physically active community, will join in Global Running Day as part of a nationwide 5K Big Run celebration. Designed to unify the efforts of running communities in different locations across the U.S. behind one event, the more than 70 participating Fleet Feet stores across the country collectively drew more than 12,000 participants in 2017.  The event is open to all ages and ability levels and the 3.1-mile-long course will take participants down to and around Sarasota’s Bayfront.

Fleet Feet Sarasota, 711 South Osprey, Sarasota.

[SOON]  THEATER: Jungle Book , June 6 – June 24

Using the same multimedia jaw-dropping approach as past hit show Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, this reimagination of Kipling's classic stories will transport audiences to the world's jungles. Audiences will have the chance to truly meet characters like Mowgli the Man-Cub and Baloo the Bear in this upcoming performance.

Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Jungle Book , June 6 – June 24

Join Mowgli, Baloo and friends when Asolo Rep presents the world premiere of Jungle Book from the creators of the hit show Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Using the same jaw-dropping multi-media theatrical approach, Jungle Book re-imagines Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories through modern eyes to transport audiences to the world’s jungles. Family Day is June 16; Family Package pricing starts at just $15 per ticket when one person in the party is 18 or younger.

Asolo Repertory Theatre , 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243

[SOON]  THEATER: Incognito , June 8 – July 8

In a cerebral journey through neuroscience, amnesia, and the theft of Albert Einstein’s brain, playwright Nick Payne investigates the nature of identity in a series of mysterious and touching interwoven tales.

Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St., Sarasota

[SOON]  GALLERY: Floridian Artists Exhibition , June 8 – June 30

As the warm summer heat sets in, 530 Burns Gallery is pleased to highlight artists who hail from Florida. Summertime and sunshine always bring inspiration, and each artist uses his or her diverse style to create innovative and original art works. Featured artists include Gary Borse, Linda Richichi, Katie Cassidy, Todd Andrew Babb, Randy Colbath and Bettina Sego.

530 Burns Gallery, 530 Burns Ct., Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSIC: Latin Jazz with the Viva Cal Sextet , June 9, 8pm

Come enjoy Latin Jazz with the Viva Cal Sextet, featuring an All Star cast of musicians including Jose Antonio Lao on Timbales, Michelle Salazar on Bass, Hector Mayoral on Vocals, Bongos, Bell and Chekere, Alexis Montalvo on Piano, Cole Hazlitt on Vibraphone, Frankie Pineiro on elongated bongos.  Band leader Frankie Pineiro has long been a fixture of the Tampa Bay Jazz community. 

Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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