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Big plans are put into motion for Siesta Promenade

Construction may begin in Spring 2015 for vacant lot at the NW corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41
By Debbie Flessner

It may not be the first time plans have been made to develop the prime property at the corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road, but the Benderson Development Company is betting that this time, the plans will stick.

Back in 2005, a partnership called Siesta 41 Associates, LLP purchased the Pine Shores Trailer Park and surrounding parcels on Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41, where it intended to raze the trailer park and construct a $350 million mixed-use project called Siesta Point. The village was to contain up to six condominium towers and dozens of shops, and the partnership group consisted of Cogan Development LLC, Benderson Development and Promenade Partners, which was a collaboration between Cogan and financiers Neil Malamud and Ron Shenkin.

At the time, the hope was that construction would begin by mid-2006 on the 23.9 acres, but as so often happens with the best-laid plans, this one did not come to fruition. Eventually, in 2009, the property was razed and prepared for building, and now it finally appears as though that land is on the brink of development.

Benderson Development and Siesta 41 have unveiled their plans for Siesta Promenade, a new 250,000-square foot open air shopping and a 150-room hotel, with an estimated construction start of next Spring.

Back in January of 2011, the group met with the Siesta Key Association and laid out their intentions for that very visible and valuable piece of land. At the meeting, Paul Blackketter, Benderson’s project manager, told the Association members that his company would undergo an extensive due-diligence process to determine the best type of development for that site.

As it turned out, the new proposed project is actually very similar to the

The 23.9 acre parcel is located on the busy corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road
The 23.9 acre parcel is located on the busy corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road
Benderson Development has plans to build a retail center and hotel on the site of the old Pine Shores Trailer Park
Benderson Development has plans to build a retail center and hotel on the site of the old Pine Shores Trailer Park
Neighbors hope that the County will do something to help alleviate the additional traffic that will surely come after the new mall is open
Neighbors hope that the County will do something to help alleviate the additional traffic that will surely come after the new mall is open

idea originally floated in 2005. But this time, the economy seems to be cooperating a little better. Requests for building permits in Sarasota County have been booming in the past year, which is definitely a telling economic sign.

Though Benderson Development is one of America’s largest privately held real estate companies, and owns and manages over 700 properties in 38 states, its influence on the Suncoast is prevalent. The new Mall at University Town Center, a Benderson Development project scheduled to be completed in less than four months, is expected to be one of the premier shopping destinations in the state.

The primary concern for people who live around the University Drive area and are required to use exit 213, the one by the new mall, on a daily basis, is that traffic going in and out of the mall could make it impossible to navigate the roads around it.

Some neighbors who live close to the proposed Siesta Promenade site have the same worries.

“It’s hard enough to get out onto Stickney Point Road as it is,” said Rebecca Pietras, who lives down one of the side streets between U.S. 41 and the Stickney Point Bridge. “Where that mall is going in is a very busy intersection. I’m just wondering if they are going to do anything to alleviate that problem, because it’s only going to get worse when they open up that mall.”

Benderson Development had a public meeting on June 26 to address citizens’ concerns, but as of the time of this printing, the meeting had not yet happened.

Although this parcel for development is not within the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD), it is expected to have a great impact for the District, due to the increased density and intensity of use. The streets in the surrounding neighborhoods are two lanes without sidewalks, and there is currently no plan on record that includes implementing traffic signals or traffic management while the property is being developed.

Curt Preisser, of Sarasota County Communications, said that the Pre-Application Meeting Request form that had been filed by Benderson Development and which laid out the bones of the project, did not include a Traffic Impact Analysis. Such a document would have explained how the company planned to handle the expected increased traffic flow at the new mall site.

“A Traffic Impact Analysis is only required with a full application,” he said. “This one was technically a pre-application, so they didn’t include it.”

Pietras and other neighbors will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer suggestions at the neighborhood meetings, of which there will certainly be more. And, as Blackketter told the Siesta Key Association when he initially spoke about the Siesta Promenade to them back in 2011, Benderson Development has no intentions of building anything until it has tenants signed and ready to move in once construction has been completed.

“There is no way we are going to build an empty building,” he said.

To find out more information about the Siesta Promenade project, and to learn about future neighborhood meetings with the developers, visit the website at www.scgov.net/PlanningServices/Pages/Workshops.aspx.