Expanded Redevelopment Program Pushed


Moves seeking to extend the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) of Sarasota are unlikely to succeed in having this program retained in its original form. The good news though is that CRA, which has been credited for helping in the revival of Sarasota’s downtown, may earn a new lease in life but with its coverage outside of the city’s urban core.

The CRA, set to expire in 2016, is a 30-year program jointly funded by the city and the county. It was adopted in 1986 initially covering Sarasota’s downtown district. The program was expanded in 2007 to include Newtown to help solve this area’s physical and socio-economic concerns, and in so doing, contribute in luring new developments and in stimulating growth of property values in the area.

Extension likely in Newtown

Expanded Redevelopment Program Pushed

County leaders maintain that the program has already succeeded in revitalizing and enhancing property values in the downtown which is now experiencing its biggest building boom in ten years and providing market tailwinds for Sarasota homes for sale. Asked about the possibility of the program’s extension, County Commissioner Paul Caragiulo said the redevelopment district’s map would have to be redrawn and its guidelines revised in order to direct CRA funding to areas that need it.

Specifically, local authorities have cited Newtown, North Sarasota, Gillespie Park, and the Rosemary District, as well as Nokomis, as local areas still in need of redevelopment support. The CRA chairman, Andy Dorr, and former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins are enlisting the assistance of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations and the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in lobbying for the program’s extension.

Communities which can conceivably benefit from added growth stimulus of a new and expanded CRA include those in the Newtown area such as Lorraine Park and Riverside Park, along with nearby North Sarasota neighborhoods, such as Royal Palm Villas, Barrington Woods, and Leisure Lakes.

It is estimated that the CRA has already funneled $95 million into projects in the downtown district and in Newtown, thus helping boost values of Sarasota homes for sale in these localities. At the city center, the program has helped fund construction of the Herald-Tribune building in Main Street, a Whole Foods Market, Five Points Park, and two parking garages.

Projects still in the pipeline

Going into its final year, the CRA plans another $1.7 million spending on improvements to Fruitville Road. An allocation of $645,000 is also set for a streetscaping of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Among other projects, the program has also set aside $50,000 for a feasibility study on a water taxi service to the barrier islands off Sarasota.

Besides the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way streetscaping in Newtown, several other projects are in the pipeline in this area. These include improvements on Myrtle Road and a redesign of the Fredd “Glossie” Atkins Park, just a short distance south of the Booker Middle School and Rolling Green Golf Club.

Notably, this North Sarasota locality offers a wide selection of affordably priced homes. Options on Sarasota homes for sale priced in the low $100s, for instance, can be found in Rolling Green Golf Village, an age 55+ community where choices can include two-bedroom residences with floor areas ranging from 972 to 1,188 square feet. Besides the nearby golf links, the amenities here include a clubhouse with a restaurant, heated community pool, shuffleboard and a library.