What’s Making the Downtown Experience Bloom?


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, March 18th, 2016 – The 2016 International Orchid Show at Marie Selby Gardens is wrapping up a successful run this late March but the added touch of floral color to Sarasota’s downtown will be staying for good. Such a striking feature is set to become a permanent fixture in the city’s core as the cool folks of the Downtown Improvement District (DID) are implementing a project to adorn street light poles in the central district with flower baskets.

This project, named Downtown in Bloom, may be bringing in small items but these should nonetheless add pizzazz to the downtown experience and may even give a soft finishing touch to some Sarasota condos for sale in the central district. The DID, funded by downtown property owners, will initially install 75 flower baskets—55 larger floral arrangements wrapped around poles and 20 smaller hanging ensembles—around the Main Street area.

In February 2015, the downtown property owners association did a trial balloon of the project at Main Street and Palm Avenue. The flower baskets remain in place today, dispelling some concerns that the adornments would have a negative impact on the city’s old lampposts.

Lemon Avenue Improvement

What’s Making the Downtown Experience Bloom?

Perpendicular to Main Street, the Lemon Avenue corridor running north to south is likewise set to blossom as the city’s public works department is developing a master plan for its improvement. As a starter, the Pineapple Park at the avenue’s southern terminus is getting a facelift in March 2016 with its mermaid fountain refurbished and its dormant water feature restored. This project also covers repair of the park’s brick pavers and pressure-washing of the concrete plaza as well as cleaning and repainting of the planter walls.

This project should help allay concerns that misfortune awaits the park following the city’s recent sale of a 5,049-square-foot parcel along Lemon Avenue adjacent to the public space. For over a year, a citizens group was lobbying against the sale, fearing the park’s demise and its adverse effect on the popular Sarasota Famers Market held Saturdays along the stretch of Lemon Avenue.

Pros for the Park

In approving the sale, city officials, however, believe that the deal itself would help save Pineapple Park. They say that the new two-story liner building that the buyer, commercial real estate developer Hembree & Associates, plans to construct in the parcel would in fact enhance the park as it would discourage unwanted public behavior and vagrants’ gatherings. The sale proponents note too that a new building near the park would encourage pedestrian flow from Main Street and add more activity to the area.

Although plans are yet to be finalized, Hembree has brought up the idea of placing café seating next to Pineapple Park in conjunction with its new building. For the developer, clinching the lot beside the park aptly complements the liner building that it is constructing next to the city’s new State Street Garage. Called “Pad Lite,” this project is programmed as a six-story, mixed-use building with 10,000 square feet allotted as commercial space. It is likewise planned for 20 residential units as potential additions to Sarasota condos for sale where future residents will have a front seat to everything abloom in the downtown.