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LOOKING BACK YEAR IN REVIEW: MARCH A banner on Main Street points to the location of the parking meter below it. Photo by Norman Schimmel MARCH 5 The City Commission votes 3-2 to bag the downtown parking meter program, after a plethora of complaints from business owners and merchants about how they have been losing money because shoppers are avoiding downtown. Vice Mayor Terry Turner joins Commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Shannon Snyder in casting the ���Yes��� votes. The commission also decides to allow free parking in the Palm Avenue garage. In the meantime, Sarasota entrepreneur Jesse Biter is paying $1.6 million for the 11,000-square-foot retail space in the Palm Avenue garage. A group of Palm Avenue merchants who offered the city $2.2 million in 2011 to purchase that space, only to be rebuffed by the city, point to the fact that the first floor of the garage remains vacant. Biter says he is working on prospects that will inject new life into Palm Avenue after 5 p.m. The Palm Avenue garage���s first-level retail space remained the focus of neighboring businesses and merchants in early March. Photo by Norman Schimmel

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