Merchants in Downtown Sarasota Grateful City Will Work Around Tourist Season

Merchants breathed a sigh of relief that a city-planned redesign of Lemon Avenue in the heart of downtown won’t happen during the tourist season, which would have potentially prevented patrons from accessing their shops, costing their businesses dearly.

The city is planning a $3.6 million redesign of a segment of Lemon Avenue between Main Street and Pineapple Avenue to remove unsightly curbing and asphalt paving, add a decorative brick medallion at the intersection of Lemon Avenue and State Street, install new lighting, enhance landscaping and widen and add brick sidewalks, which would result in the loss of about 10 on-street parking spaces, city officials said. The project also includes the remodel of Paul Thorpe Jr. Park, which calls for the addition of an outdoor performance space, more benches and the relocation of large trees. Surrounding business owners have embraced the proposed changes that will enhance the beauty of the area to mirror the spacious bricked walkways around Mattison’s City Grille on North Lemon Avenue that accommodates space for outdoor seating. But they originally feared the project’s timing would be devastating to their livelihoods.

The city on Friday announced the project will begin in May and last through November with no road or sidewalk closures taking place before Mother’s Day, as business owners requested.

“It’s incredible that the voices of the merchants were actually taken in,” Chip Beeman, owner of the nearby Pastry Art said. “I’m absolutely elated. This is the first time that they really listened about the timing of a project. I think they finally understand how damaging these projects can be to the small-business person.”

By Nicole Rodriguez
Staff Writer 
Sarasota Herald Tribune

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