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Aug 16

North Trail partnership says time is right for redevelopment

Posted by in Tamiami Cultural District , Sarasota Florida , North Trail Redevelopment Partnership , North Trail , North Tamiami Trail , North Tamiami  , North Sarasota , My Tamiami , Economic Redevelopment

Reported by: Fallon Silcox Email: Last Update: 8/12 6:38 pm

Reported by: Fallon Silcox Email: Last Update: 8/12 6:38 pm


SARASOTA - Unlike downtown Sarasota or the University Parkway corridor, North Tamiami Trail isn't known for its shops or restaurants. And over the years it's developed a somewhat negative reputation. But the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership is working to change that stigma.

Officials with the partnership say the new Walmart project in the area is only the beginning, and now they're hoping to get the city on board to take North Tamiami Trail to the next level.

Currently, abandoned buildings, empty offices, and vacant lots welcome people to the north end of Tamiami Trail.

“This is one of the areas in the city that is under-developed. Most of the areas you see -- South Trail, Downtown -- have been developed.” Jay Patel, chair of the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership, says this section of the Trail has lacked development for the last 30 years, despite its potential. “There's a lot of vacant land here, vacant buildings here that are good. If it’s re-developed it has a good tax base generation for the county.”

And now the partnership is hoping for some help from the city. On Monday, city commissioners will decide whether to contribute $40,000 to go towards hiring an economic development coordinator for the area. “In the past two years, what we have created are a lot of tools in terms of demographics, maps, and different things. And we have the tools ready for the person to go out and market the Trail,” says Patel.

Businesses along the Trail say they think North Tamiami Trail is worth the city's investment. “You have New College up the street, Ringling right across the street, and there's really no where for them to walk to go, except for here and a few other spots,” says Christine Dormo of Big E’s Sweets Gourmet Coffee.

Patel says with the plans for the new Walmart, and other businesses on board, the timing is right. “If we provide the right tools, you have the people, they'll be coming. You have the traffic that’s on the trail of about 40,000 cars, and the demographic stays around with students and affordable groceries and everything…bringing things alive on the Trail.”

The economic development coordinator will also work on branding the North Trail and organizing festivals and things like that to bring people to the area.  See original article

Aug 12

North Trail Pushes for Economic Leader

Posted by in Tamiami Cultural District , Sarasota Florida , North Trail Redevelopment Partnership , North Trail , North Tamiami Trail , North Tamiami  , North Sarasota , My Tamiami , Economic Redevelopment

The North Trail Redevelopment Partnership believes it has a plan in place to transform the North Trail into a thriving business district.

It has already convinced the County Commission of that, and now it will try to do the same before the City Commission.

Jay Patel, president of the NTRP, will urge city commissioners Aug. 15, to contribute $40,000 toward the hiring of a North Trail economic-development coordinator.

Two weeks ago, county commissioners approved a contribution of $40,000 for that purpose, contingent upon the City Commission and the NTRP also pitching in the same amount.

“Nothing like this has been approached before,” said Patel. “(The job) is very important for North Trail.”

Patel said the NTRP has more than half of its $40,000 committed, and he is actively seeking more contributions from other North Trail business owners.

The main goal of the new economic-development coordinator will be business recruitment. NTRP leaders hope the position will be filled by the end of the year.

“We want businesses to relocate on the Trail,” Patel said. “We have a lot of vacancies in terms of buildings and land.”

Former City Commission candidate Richard Dorfman has been pushing for North Trail redevelopment and supports hiring a coordinator who would concentrate solely to that purpose.

“For the first time, all stakeholders on the North Trail have the opportunity to be represented by a dedicated, economic development coordinator whose singular focus will be on commercial growth for the betterment of the entire North Sarasota community,” Dorfman said. “New business means job creation and economic opportunity.”

To help attract new businesses, the NTRP expects to conduct a full demographic study of the North Trail and develop sales materials based on the findings.

A website dedicated to the commercial opportunities in the area will also be created.

“If redevelopment is going to happen, the time is now,” said Patel.

See original article:

Aug 09

Forbes Rates New College of Florida a Top 20 "Best Buy College"

Posted by in Universities , Sarasota Florida , New College , Best Colleges

New College of Florida ( landed the No. 16 spot on Forbes’ "Top 100 Best Buy Colleges for 2011.” This ranking comes on the heels of The Princeton Review’s fifth-place ranking of New College for “Great Financial Aid” and top scores for academics and professors. The rankings are compiled by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.   Original article courtesy of BIZ941 (

Aug 08

North Trail Lobbies for Redevelopment Entity

Posted by in Tamiami Cultural District , Sarasota Florida , North Trail Redevelopment Partnership , North Trail , North Tamiami Trail , North Tamiami  , North Sarasota , My Tamiami , Economic Redevelopment

Jacob Ogles,

Despite hosting a world-class museum and two major colleges, the North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota has remained economically stagnant for years. Now, business leaders are lobbying for economic development officials to focus on redevelopment there. The effort comes a year after the first downtown economic development coordinator in Sarasota was budgeted. The City Commission, in conjunction with The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Improvement District, hired an economic development coordinator to recruit businesses there and help existing ones thrive. Jay Patel, chairman of the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership, notes the coordinator is just the most recent step in building up downtown. A Community Redevelopment Agency was set up in the 1980s. A similar CRA board was established more recently in Newtown. Those efforts resulted in improvements to Newtown, and downtown today is one of the healthiest business areas in Southwest Florida. "But we are not just asking because downtown has something," Patel said. "We are asking because it is a necessity." The partnership has raised $40,000 in private sector commitments for funding a North Trail economic development coordinator and secured a $40,000 commitment from Sarasota County Commissioners tied to participation from the city. But City Manager Bob Bartolotta said options need to be explored. The city doesn't have $40,000 to chip in. Bartolotta would like to see the money contributed toward a broader economic development effort. While Welker now reports to the city, Chamber and DID board, Bartolotta said that group could be expanded to include the partnership and the county. Rick Piccolo, chairman of the Chamber, said a consolidation of efforts made sense. "There would be some synergy there," he said. "Why redo the whole thing?" David Morriss, partnership vice chairman, said he worries about spreading a single coordinator thin. "We expect someone to be familiar with every stick, brick and sidewalk," he said. "That is a tall order for someone split with two areas." But partnership leaders said they are ready to discuss options. They are already lobbying city commissioners, and are optimistic about gaining support. Commissioner Shannon Snyder said he would like to see something happen. "The North Trail really has to be looked at as a great opportunity," he said.

Original Article:  SRQDaily 08-05-2011 (
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Aug 05

New College of Florida Featured in Princeton Review's 2012 Best 376 Colleges

Posted by in Universities , Sarasota Florida , North Trail , New College , Best Colleges

New College of Florida ( has been named one of the country’s best colleges for the 10th consecutive year by The Princeton Review ( in its newly published college guide, The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 Edition. New College is one of only 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges profiled in the book and also regularly appears in The Princeton Review’s annual “100 Best Value Colleges.”   See original article

Aug 04

Ringling College Ranked Among Top 25 Film Schools in Country

Posted by in Sarasota Florida , Ringling College , Ringling , North Trail , Film Schools

The Ringling College of Art and Design ( was ranked No. 23 by as one of the best 25 film schools in the country for its digital filmmaking program. Rankings were based on feedback from film industry insiders and executives, filmmakers and film school grads, and covered categories relating to alumni, cost, facilities, industry access and strength of faculty.    Original Article: