The City of Sarasota has a vibrant downtown. It is a desirable place to live and dine and is very popular. It is growing rapidly with more dense housing adding to the urban vitality. Main Street is very attractive, nicely landscaped, with the historic town center buildings preserved. It provides a great lineal downtown, with shops and restaurants.
Sarasota is missing a classic town square, however. When you arrange to meet someone, where do you say to meet? In London you could say meet me at Trafalgar Square. In Rome the Trevi Fountain. In Chicago you could say meet me at The Bean. But in Sarasota you must arrange to meet at a restaurant.
Great public squares usually feature one or more iconic sculptures and fountains. These sculptures and/or fountains provide a name for the square. They usually include a common area paved with brick, with an attractive streetscape surrounded by attractive buildings.
The square is surrounded on two or more sides with restaurants and shops. The restaurants include outside seating sometimes under cover. In Florida much of the square should be in the shade from an adjacent building.
So how can Sarasota correct this situation and create a great town square? We will briefly outline how a great town square can be developed in downtown Sarasota. We have several possible locations.
We will start with Five Points which is the historic center of the City. The square is very well located near the historic center of the community.
It is attractive with lovely landscaping, sculptures, and attractive pavers. But it is not a focal point for the community, primarily because it is surrounded with streets, without restaurants on the perimeter.
The triangular shaped parcel is bounded by:
Central Avenue and large office and condominiums
1st St and Selby Library on the north
North Pineapple on the south
Main Street and a nice roundabout at the southeast corner
Central Ave is narrow with pavers and diagonal parking on only one side. 1st St is a conventional and North Pineapple are conventional two way streets.
The City has several options:
1. Leave it the way it is.
2. Work with property owners to narrow the streets similar to Central Ave.
3. Vacate 1st St and or N. Pineapple
Alternative 1 is of course the easiest, but does not result in a more dynamic area.
Alternative 2 is simple and would enhance pedestrian access from adjacent business on to the area.
Alternative 3 would result in the most impact, with the redevelopment of the businesses on Pin
We recommend that the city consider taking the same approach on 1st Street and Pineapple Ave. Both streets could be changed over to pavers and emphasize