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Sarasota News Leader February 8, 2013 Page 32 This is an old squeaking wheel coming back to around 18 percent, but with the high cost of life: how to create affordable housing down- land and construction, it wasn't doable." town. District Chairman Ernie Ritz said one problem DROD stands for is putting together a Downtown Residenparcel. "It is nearly imtial Overlay District, a From what I've seen over the years, possible for a developtwo-year experiment the city and county have missed the boat er to assemble an acre that permitted devel- on developing Sarasota. of land downtown," opers to jump to 200 he said. "But a smallWilliam Pettey dwelling units per acre er parcel, say 20,000 Member Downtown Improvement District instead of their having square feet, you could to adhere to the cap of build 22 units. For 50 per acre allowed in the city's comprehen- a rental, you could probably get $1,000 per sive plan — except nobody tried it. month. Or you could build 22 condominiums and charge $800,000 and make $16 million inBy allowing increased density, city planners stead." and the City Commission wanted to see if developers might propose building smaller units Ritz's numbers make a point. A condo deal — but a lot more of them — to bring prices ($800,000 x 22 units = $17,600,000, minus land, down — or build large rental complexes. construction and marketing costs) is certainly more attractive than $264,000 in annual rent The DROD expired long ago, and only one payments, assuming all units are full all the builder — Chris Brown — gave the idea a time. The rent money might not even pay the spin, but he decided on a conventional mixedinterest on the construction loan. use condominium we now call 1350 Main. The DROD offer "sunsetted" in 2006. A "Son The idea of increasing density is coming back, of DROD" proposal offered similar density inand the Downtown Improvement District apcreases but over a smaller area; it, too, died. pears ready to embark on an education and Ritz and others are gearing up to try it again, persuasion campaign to convince residents, and they think the environment may be more voters and politicians density is not all bad. favorable this time. Land prices are roughly "Under the DROD, it wasn't economically fea- half what they were at the peak of the boom, sible to provide attainable units unless it was for example. with a 300 to 400 percent density increase, "This will need broad community support," or 150 to 200 [dwelling units per acre]," said said Smith. "You might want to start in a smallDick Smith, the city planner who is the gener area." eral manager for integration. "The minimum profit developers were looking at was in the Last year the City Commission held a "retreat" 23-25 percent range. Nationally, the figure was to talk about big issues and to set ambitious

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