City commissioners and leaders are eager to improve and renovate the city-owned Lido Beach and Pavilion, but not at a cost of $2.9 million.
Carl Shoffstall, president of Lido Key Residents Association, presented the City Commission Monday with the first cost estimate of renovations to the city-owned property, which was taken over from Sarasota County with the intention of improving it.
"I'm here tonight to say let's go," Shoffstall said of the five-year renovation plan.
At the least, Shoffstall would like the city to start Phase I with the money available, and commissioners appeared to be amenable to that, but asked for the an ad-hoc committee and staff working on the beach renovation to prepare a business plan, full first-phase estimates and how the property will make revenue.
"I don't think any of us have an appetite for $2.9 million, but we do have an appetite for starting if there is a way," Commissioner Terry Turner said.
Here's how the renovation is proposed in phases, starting in 2016:
Phase I — $366,602.44
- Construct Outdoor Dining Area, Tiki Bar
- Reconfigure restrooms for new consolidated lifeguard space and community space
- Expand existing building
- Provide revenue generating elements early in construction
- State with simple construction text
- Minimize disturbance
- Address building functionality and revenue generating
- Renovate Meeting Room
- Upgrade Catering Kitchen
- Build splash pad area to south of pool
- Improve pool area
- Build plaza shade structure
- Hardscape renovation
- Build small stage
- Build rental kiosk
- Meeting Room Garden Plazas
- Build playgrounds
- Construct roundabout and reconfigure parking lot and drop-off area
- Replace beach pavilion roof
- Building exterior enhancements
- Planting and irrigation
That's a total of $2,916,567.
Of course, there are a few issues to be dealt with.
First, there's FEMA, which requires that if more than 50 percent of the value of the structure is improved, triggering a change in elevation, the pavilion would have to be brought to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, but its a historic Sarasota School of Architecture building.
That's strictly looking at the building, and at that rate about $200,000 could be spent on the building. Yet, as the property is improved, the value could go up if the city decides to gain additional appraisals, thus increasing the threshold.
Then there's paying for the project.
As of September, Lido Pool has operated at a $28,000 deficit, which is a significant decrease, Shoffstall points out, than the $180,000 the county first estimated when given to the city.
Shoffstall believes the key revenue generator would be a vendor for a restaurant and a tiki bar there for beachfront dining.
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, a restaurateur, agrees.
"It's a great opportunity to get some sort of food service or Tiki bar there," he said. "You'd have a line around the block for an operator there."
Off the cuff, Caragiulo figured a restaurant could figure $3.5 million revenue considering the lack of beachfront dining and rent could typically be 5 to 6 percent.
Of the $2.9 million, the committee identified $1.25 million available in combined fiscal years 2016 and 2017 from surtax sales tax funds, but then the money dries up and falls into a deficit, said Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown.
"There has to be some sort of partnership in this if it would become a reality," Brown said.
So, who will pay for the partnership?
Public Works General Manager Todd Kucharski believes that the restaurant and Tiki bar vendor could fund some of Phase II.
Shoffstall just doesn't want the city to sell the property off. The recently approved sale of the Palm Avenue parcel for a hotel included a measure to include the developer to pay for the pool renovation in exchange for management of the property, but that proposal was considered an "afterthought" by former City Manager Robert Bartolotta, and was not mentioned in this week's sale.
"The notion that the city would give it up is uncontionable to me. I just don't see how it could be done," Shoffstall said. "Do you want the legacy of this commission to give up that city beach? I don't think so."
Consultants completed schematic sketches, and would have to finalize design to help with better cost estimates, said Suzanne Thompson, landscape architect for IBI Group.
This version corrects the amount of rent estimated by Paul Caragiulo that the city could collect from a beachfront restaurant at Lido Beach.