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Workshop to air out redevelopment ideas

By Staff | Mar 8, 2013

Kevin Ruane

Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, city council members and city planners get a chance to exchange ideas on a commercial redevelopment plan on Tuesday, March 12, at MacKenzie Hall.

The expected four-hour workshop commences at 9 a.m. to address the best way to proceed with redevelopment guidelines.

“I just think we need to sit down as a council and have a discussion on this subject, without distraction, to get this right,” Ruane said at the Feb. 5 council meeting. “There is no silver bullet to fix this and I think we’ve been rushed. I’d like to have a workshop session where redevelopment is the only thing we have to focus on and I want input from the public.”

While Planning Department director James Jordan was ready to present the next phase of the staff report, council unanimously agreed with Ruane’s view and set a date for next week’s workshop session.

“It’s intended to give staff direction,” said Ruane. “We need top identify the five most common problems we face, whether it is setbacks or parking, and perhaps identify specific properties to address.”

Ruane compares the redevelopment of commercial properties with the rebuilding of residences and resorts that went on after Hurricane Charley.

“I want a real active discussion,” said Ruane. “There are some tough decisions that need to be made and I want the public to be aware. I’m not required to take public comments at the meeting, but I’d like to.”

Conclusions of the first phase of the study, first presented to the Plan Commission on Jan. 22, to this point indicate the average age of Sanibel’s commercial stock is older than the average age of stock off-island. The island’s commercial growth occurred in the 1970s and 1980s while the growth of Iona has occurred since 1990.