The city of Sarasota has decided against considering a proposal that could bring boutique hotels and condo units to St. Armands Circle.  

A board that represents the circle’s property owners would like the city to update the circle’s zoning regulations, envisioning that hotel rooms or condos could be located on the second floor of some buildings. The first floor would continue to be occupied by businesses.  

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For hotels to be allowed on the circle, the city would have to amend its Zoning Code. But, on Monday, city commissioners unanimously denied the St. Armands board’s request to have city planning staff develop zoning amendments. They expressed concerns about traffic, and some worried about increasing development on the barrier islands.  

St. Armands proposal meets opposition 

St. Armands Circle is a popular dining and shopping district. The neighborhood around the shopping circle on St. Armands Key, known as Ringling Estates, was one of the early “master-planned” communities in Sarasota.

The St. Armands Business Improvement District’s board of directors, which represents the circle’s property owners, came up with the proposal. The board sees flaws in the city’s current zoning regulations for St. Armands. 

“Our zoning needs to be cleaned up on St. Armands,” said Tom Leonard, the board’s chair. “There’s some holes in it.” 

The board proposed that the code be amended to promote mixed-use development in the district. Hotels, for example, would be allowed on the second floor of buildings on the circle. Leonard said he thinks the circle could be home to a few small boutique hotels.  

By Amalia