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Whither the public parking spot by Oceane?

By Rachel Brown Hackney
SarasotaNewsLeader.com

In 2013, staff of what was then the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department carved out a tiny public parking space on right of way next to an open parcel on Ocean Boulevard with a close-up view of Lido Key, across Big Pass.

The project began in the spring of that year and was completed by late summer.

The space was delineated by a rope-and-post system. A typical Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) kiosk was posted adjacent to it, as well, to explain the rules for beach access. Anyone using the parking space could amble on down the adjacent road to a spot popular for vista viewing and fishing.

The total investment for the project was about $5,000, then-county spokesman Curt Preisser reported.

On a side note, Preisser said staff research found that the public right of way was established in the early 1900s.

Then, in the late winter of 2017, a developer and a luxury real estate firm announced plans for the first new condominium development on Siesta since 2009. Called Oceane, it was designed for construction on the Ocean Boulevard property that once afforded expansive views of Big Pass and South Lido to drivers and people using the PRNR pocket parking space. Oceane’s official address is 4740 Ocean Blvd.

After work began on the complex last year, the public parking space disappeared.

Although this reporter had noticed the situation, a reader’s inquiry reminded me finally to ask county staff for an explanation.

Media Relations Specialist Brianne Grant pored over a number of county documents to arrive at that explanation.

Apparently, in 2005, she reported, the County Commission gave developers the right to use public spaces, like the one on Ocean Boulevard, as the developers work on construction projects. Based on her understanding of the materials, Grant said, the use of that parking place on Ocean Boulevard actually was part of the construction site work plans that the Oceane project team members submitted to the county in 2016 and for which they won approval from the Building Department.

Grant determined that after Oceane has been completed, the developer — Crossgate Partners LLC, based in Suwanee, Ga. — will have to remove all equipment from the area of the public parking space. She pointed out that the county did not grant Crossgate an easement for any permanent structure on the site of the parking spot.

Based on a review of Realtor websites in July, SNL found that the expected completion of Oceane is in August.

One other piece of news to note from the official Oceane website is the fact that Michael Saunders & Company is listed as the firm to which inquiries about purchases should be directed. Originally, Peter Laughlin, a broker associate with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, was the point person for anyone with an interest in Oceane. A July 3 check of Laughlin’s Sarasota County listings found no mention of Oceane.

Subsequent July searches on real estate websites found listings for only two of the six condos that Oceane will encompass. One was priced at $4,199,000; the other, at $3,999,000.

One of those websites, SaraSellsSarasota, carried a notice that its listings are updated daily.