Business owners raise concerns about proposed St. Armands Circle parking garage

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The city of Sarasota is making plans for a parking garage and parking meters at St. Armands Circle. But, some say it can do more harm than good.

If there’s one thing many can agree on, it’s hard to find a space at this popular tourist spot.

“It can be challenging,” said one man.

To help solve the problem, the city wants to build a new parking garage. The 15 million dollar project will add more than 500 spaces and some public restrooms.

“I think the parking garage is a good idea,” said one shopper.

Inside the shop ‘Just/Because,’ owner Barbara Pugliese is hesitant.

“I’m not 100 percent on the parking garage,” said Pugliese.

Local businesses owners will be paying extra assessment fees to help pay for the project.

“As a small business an extra expense is a lot for us,” explained Pugliese.

Parking meters are going to be added throughout the shopping district to provide funds as well. Pugliese is not only worried that customers may not want to pay the meters, she’s concerned that her employees may have to pay the meters as well.

“Our clients like to pull up and walk in, they’re not always the best about walking around. They want the convenience of being right outside the door. I don’t know if they’re going to walk from the other side of the circle over here,” said Pugliese.

City officials have done studies on this area, and they feel this plan is the best option to increase visitors and solve the parking problem.

“There’s just not enough room on the streets, and certainly we want to protect some of the neighborhoods, the residents as well,” said city parking manager Mark Lyons.

Some business owners believe this will come at a great cost, and they hope their voices are heard.

You can still weigh in later this month and in May, the city will have public workshops to talk about the garage.

They hope to have the plan finalized in the next few months and construction will begin within a year.

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