City of Sarasota to revisit State Street garage sale
By David Conway via the Observer
As Joe Hembree considers his plans to develop a pad property at the State Street garage, he’s run into a roadblock: It’s too small.
Hembree, president of commercial real estate firm Hembree and Associates, bid $688,000 for the 5,041-square-foot property. His winning bid was more than $300,000 higher than the next closest price submitted.
Hembree’s vision includes a six-story structure including retail on the first story, office space on the second floor and about 18 600- to 800-square-foot residential units on levels three through six.
But as it stands, Hembree says, his project isn’t economically feasible. He made a number of requests to help facilitate his plans, including the shared use of a garage stairwell and the use of garage spaces for residential tenants of the pad site. The most significant request, however, is Hembree’s interest in incorporating more city-owned land into his project.
That land is located on the western end of the existing Northern Trust bank parking garage, fronting nearby Pineapple Park. Hembree visualizes this as a two-story mezzanine structure, acting as a liner building for the garage and adding activity to the park. The roof could also include amenities for the pad site apartments.
Although the City Commission voted to allow staff to negotiate with Hembree, commissioners expressed a hesitance to change the terms of the sale Monday. Prior to the 3-2 vote that authorized staff to re-examine the sale, the dissenting commissioners signaled even stronger emotions about the continued negotiations.
“I’m sure we’re going to get sued somewhere down the line,” Commissioner Shannon Snyder said.
“I predict this will blow up in our face,” Vice Mayor Susan Chapman added.
In addition to worries about encroaching on Pineapple Park, there were also concerns other bidders would object to the sale of additional land. City Attorney Robert Fournier said he didn’t believe a separate sale of adjacent land would be a legal issue, but that failed to soothe Snyder.
“If I was bidding on one contract and realized it opened the door to another piece of property, and I didn’t get the opportunity to bid on that — oh yeah, I’d be (taking legal action) in a heartbeat,” Snyder said.
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