At this weeks meeting of the SRQ Party, we discussed the possibilities of creating a plan for the Ringling Shopping Center that would best serve the community and satisfy the current owner. In lieu of changing the zoning to accommodate a Walmart, which would forever block the possibility of local, entrepreneurial development, we feel that it would better serve the residents and economic buoyancy of Sarasota to come together as a community and draft a proposal for something more amenable to the vision and desires of the surrounding neighborhoods. We feel that since the property was zoned as a Commercial Shopping Center Neighborhood, it should be retrofitted as a local food and artisans market including a pay-what-you-want cafe and caterer/chef incubator, and flex space for events and classes to promote healthy living, community development, creative resilience, artistic ingenuity, and economic appreciation.
At this stage, we are researching similar markets in other communities and discussing the feasibility of retrofitting the existing building to accommodate the needs of the community and get a Certificate of Occupancy. Considering the future extension of the Legacy Trail and the recent endeavors of both the City and County of Sarasota to improve upon the multi-modal transportation infrastructure, we feel that the Ringling Market would be a great destination spot for citizens of south county, and serve as a gateway to the rest of downtown Sarasota. We also discussed the future possibility of utilizing the nearby train tracks for access to the north.
Considering that the structure is part of the Sarasota School of architecture, we would also like to find out if it is appropriate for historic building designation. We would also like to utilize the roof of the structure as a solar energy farm as a movement toward a more progressive and sustainable Sunshine State. We feel that the best way to proceed is to form a B (Benefit) Corporation that would be collectively owned by participating members of the community and be devoted to preserving the spirit of artistry, entrepreneurialism, eco-consciousness, and human development that Sarasota has come to represent.
We are currently looking for investors of time, insight, and finance that are willing to support the community by helping further this project along.