Apartments at Old Sarasota Kennel Club Approach Approval | sarasota
With first-reading approval for voluntary annexation and rezoning from the Sarasota City Commission, an apartment complex developer is at the starting gate in his quest to build a rental community on the site of the former Sarasota Kennel Club.
Aventon Cos., based in Raleigh, North Carolina, plans to build a 348-unit medium-density multifamily complex on the gated 26-acre dog track site at the corner of University Parkway and Old Bradenton Road. Recommended for disapproval by a 3-2 vote of the Planning Board – mainly due to concerns about noise from flight operations at nearby Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport – the commissioners instead sided with housing need for the workforce.
By a vote of 4 to 1, commissioners approved the rezoning, with commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch dissenting. Moments earlier, they unanimously approved the voluntary annexation of a 3.25-acre strip of land – essentially the back stretch of the track along the eastern edge of the property off Desoto Road – in the city.
Currently zoned Commercial Community (Town Plot) and Moderate Density Residential (County Plot), pending second reading approval, the property will be rezoned Multifamily-Medium Density, as specified in the future land use map in accordance to the request for modification of the overall plan of the city. This amendment is awaiting approval from Tallahassee.
The annexation and amendment of the overall plan will return to the city commission on September 6 for a second reading. Because it was unanimous, annexation will be on the consent agenda. The amendment to the overall plan will be placed under unfinished business as the first reading vote was not unanimous.
During this same meeting, the Municipal Board is expected to hold a quasi-judicial public hearing on the proposed rezoning and development site plan.
Ahearn-Koch opposed the rezoning out of concern for future residents living primarily below SRQ’s glidepath, the runway 1,500 feet from the northern edge of the property, and the frequent but not constant emission of aircraft noise. She cited studies on the adverse health effects of constant exposure to this level of noise, and that with the required noise abatement construction techniques, it will always be above 60 decibels indoors.
Aventon senior development manager Sean Flanagan countered that indoor conversation is at 60 decibels and all outdoor facilities will be located on the west side of the property, outside the noise contour. Potential residents will be informed of the airport’s proximity before signing a lease, he added, and the city and airport will be indemnified against any future liability.
Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport President Rick Piccolo told commissioners he “shamelessly” opposed the apartment development, calling it the worst possible use of the property. He said complaints are inevitable no matter what documents tenants sign.
As the airport grew and flight operations increased during his 27 years there, he said SRQ invested $45 million in noise abatement for homes in neighborhoods surrounding the former site of the airport. canine club. Most of these houses were in place before the airport emerged, and FAA guidelines for noise abatement were developed.
And that noise will only get worse, he said. Although SRQ averages between five and six commercial aircraft operations per hour, it has approximately 160,000 operations per year, or approximately 18.5 take-offs and landings per hour, including private aircraft. At its peak in 1992-93, there were 192,000 operations a year, and there is still capacity even beyond that peak for even more air traffic, Piccolo told the commissioners.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Piccolo said. “They’re going to complain because they always do. It’s very similar to people moving downtown and saying “I want to move to where the action is”. When the action happens, they start complaining.
Similar nearby neighborhoods of SRQ as Aventon Sarasota’s proposed number in the hundreds of homes, not including a planned 290-unit apartment community lining the western edge of the site. This complex, which sits more directly below the downhill track than the dog track, has been approved by the Sarasota County Commission and is moving forward.
The current zoning of the site would allow for more intensive commercial uses such as a big box store or retail center – a convenience store has already been approved for the northwest corner at University and Old Bradenton – and the lack of Opposition from surrounding neighborhoods suggests an apartment community is the most compatible option for the now run-down property.
“We didn’t have anyone from the neighborhood objecting to it. The neighborhood association is in favor of it,” Commissioner Hagen Brody said. “They understand that if it doesn’t go through, there’s a chance it ends up being something a lot less compatible with the neighborhood and it can be more combative with the airport.”
Brody’s comment was a thinly veiled observation that, in the absence of any other serious interest in the Kennel Club since its closure in 2019, the land is a possible location for airport parking and/or storage. rental cars, a use that would bring far more traffic to Old Bradenton Road than an apartment community.
Prior to COVID-19, the airport authority had shown interest in the site, but the pandemic sidelined those capital expenditures.
Flanagan said the only real interest in the site was from apartment developers and that Aventon had experience building near airports. The company is currently building under the glide path to Orlando International Airport, which has considerably more operations than SRQ. In the immediate vicinity of Miami-Dade International Airport, he added, there are more than 8,000 apartments.
“We have an agreement that we signed with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority that we will notify our residents and let them know fully that they are going to be in the sound contour, and that is all they need,” said said Flanagan. “The pushback here is hard to understand. I would hate for this project to not move forward and become a rental car parking lot with parking because you could have long term parking for the airport but lose a $2 million tax base.
More housing for the workforce
The majority of rents in Aventon Sarasota will be about 120% of North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton’s average median income, Flanagan said, putting it at the top of the housing price range for attainable labor. Although that’s a concern for some commissioners, Brody suggested that proximity to the airport would be a “natural governor” on rents.
A low-density community means no units are added to the affordable housing stock, but it is a step in strengthening the labor force category. Flanagan said that as more apartments come online, rents will naturally come down across the city.
“Nearly 94% of our units would fall within that 120% AMI limit,” Flanagan said. “If you have two people in a three-bedroom apartment sharing that rent and they each have their own lease, we would have 100% of the project meeting the 120% of the AMI. It’s our teachers, our police, our firefighters, hospital workers, airport workers – and that’s because we’re able to build a low-density project of this nature.
Ahearn-Koch acknowledged that the apartments would be a welcome addition to the housing stock, but questioned whether the city should knowingly allow a project to proceed that it says would put residents at risk.
“There’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful project, … but the word for me is that it just boils down to ‘must’,” she said. “Do we have to do this?” Can we do this? Yes we can. Should we? Do we knowingly allow people to be exposed to something that our documentation shows will cause health and safety issues. I love this project, but I cannot support the motion.
Brody bristled at Ahearn-Koch’s assessment, pointing to neighborhoods adjacent to the site, and chastised her for publicly suggesting residents are unsafe in their own homes.
Commissioner Liz Alpert sided with Brody.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me to take this little island of residences out and say we can have them everywhere here, but we can’t have it there. It doesn’t make sense in terms of planning,” she said. “If we’re putting people at risk, then all those residences over there should be demolished. We should take them by eminent domain and say they can’t be there anymore because it’s too dangerous.
“I think it’s going to add to our housing stock and adding to the housing stock drives rents down because it’s supply and demand.”