Sarasota to consider parking garage on St. Armand's - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota to consider parking garage on St. Armand's

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

St Armand's Circle in Sarasota is a popular shopping destination, but the city says the crowds bring a parking problem.

The city is exploring the possibility of building a parking garage in the trendy neighborhood.

St. Armand's Circle is replete with fancy boutiques and fine dining.

The one thing the area lacks is parking spaces.

Sarasota Parking Division Manager Mark Lyons said, "We know there's a shortage of spaces, but what is the best method to deal with it?"

The city teamed up with the St. Armand's Business Improvement District. They're funding a $50,000 feasibility study to explore options and one of them is a parking garage.

Lyons said, "If indeed any structure is put up there, we're going to be very concerned with communicating with neighbors making sure it matches and blends with their environment."

Dave Tesar from Big Olaf creamery says the parking issues vary throughout the year.  "All depends on the time of year you come out. When you come out during February, March, April, there's a parking problem. When you come out September, October, parking is wherever you want really."

"I feel as long as you get the parking garage away from the shopping area there, I don't think it will hurt the look of the shopping area." said Tesar.

Patrons don't want a garage to take away from the plaza's ambiance.

Visitor Mark Morley says, "To me, that kind of takes away from the aesthetics and the appearance from the rest of the area. I'm not sure it fits."

But then again, some folks like the circle just how it is.

Frequent patron Doug Roberts said, "I never have a problem. I've been here over 10 years and I like it."

But the garage is just one option. There are others like a remote parking lot with transportation.

The feasibility study will explore the cost and locations of the proposed projects.

Lyons said, "The idea is to work through the community and make sure everybody is comfortable with whatever alternatives are available."

It's still very early in the process, but two possible locations for a parking garage could be the existing public lots on the north and south end of the district.

The consultants will submit their proposals next week, and then a committee of business leaders will evaluate them.

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