Bubil: Uncertainty over city of Sarasota's new code


Matthew Lawlor, an expert in form-based codes, will give a talk to Realtors (the public is welcome) on the rewriting of the city’s planning and zoning code that is going on right now at the City of Sarasota’s Urban Design Studio.

“Form-Based Codes: What Is the Future Look of Sarasota?” will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 2, at Sarasota Realtors headquarters at 2320 Cattlemen Road.

Architects are wary of the form-based code effort because at this time, it includes a section on architectural design standards. A lot of architects hate that phrase.

” ‘Look'?” wrote architect James Piatchuk in an email to me. “How about ‘function,’ and stay out of the ‘looks’ game?” He is especially concerned because Lawlor is an accredited member of the Congress for the New Urbanism, whose members have championed traditional building designs.

The future of the proposed code’s architectural standards is unclear with the resignation last week of designer Andrew Georgiadis, who plans to work until Oct. 23; city staff said he could have most of the standards completed by then. Stay tuned.


Tia Castle has had a real estate license for just nine months, but she has a long history in television. Combining the two, she will debut a weekly program on luxury real estate, “Home & Castle TV,” at 8 p.m. Thursday on SNN Local News 6.

“Ever since I was in journalism school, I’ve wanted to produce a television show,” said Castle, whose real last name is Chanitia; she is half-Thai. “All the experiences I have had have led up to this point.” In the 1980s, she was a reporter for a local TV station, and she has done TV and film work in Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

Experience tells her that luxury real estate from $1 million to $5 million is hard to sell. Some truth in that. Her program will focus on local properties in that price range, as well as “Posh Pads” from $500,000 to $1 million. She has a lineup of co-hosts that includes Ricky Perrone of Perrone Construction; he will discuss home-improvement projects.

Castle’s show also will have segments on the luxury lifestyle: “From exotic cars to private jet travel and high-end services,” she said. “Things people love to look at, even if they can’t be in that world. They can dream.

“Luxury television shows are taking off. But there is nothing for the local market. People will be able to see their community in a different way in a way that has never been represented on television media. There is that hole to fill.”


Recently I asked readers of my Facebook page if they would be able to retire in Sarasota, and if they would want to. It brought a 50-50 split of opinion, with some people saying the city has changed dramatically since their arrival, in ways both good and bad.

But few of them were as well-written as longtime reader Carole Nikla’s recollections of Sarasota:

“Yes, Sarasota has changed since my arrival in 1950,” she wrote. “What I miss is the congenial feeling of knowing practically everyone when you walked the avenues downtown. The storekeepers would stand outside and greet passers-by. Parking was not a problem. The lounges had live entertainment and dancing at most venues on the weekend, and famous writers and artists intermingled with the residents as they dined in local restaurants.

“The Ringling Hotel was THE place in town, with circus acts in the dining room. John Ringling North even visited the Plaza when he was in town. The Lido Casino a favorite meeting place for singles and families, where tourists and locals visited to watch the Gulf waters and swimmers as they sat along the benches by the seahorses on the wall of the casino.

“We had parades down Main Street: the Circus when it came back to town, the local children’s parade and then the Grand parade during season. We could drive on the beach at Siesta Key, and the residents said there would never be a high-rise on Siesta. Longboat Key still had the remnants of the old Ritz hotel that Ringling built, with half of a bridge across the pass still remaining. No one wanted to stay on LBK because all it had was mosquitoes and sand burrs. Main Street went right out to the bay and was connected to the pier. Most residents were full time, with just a few leaving for summer homes in the North.

“Enter condos. The advent of condos in the area propelled a huge change in all of Sarasota. It eliminated an entire community of single-family homes in Siesta Village. They consumed Longboat Key and made it a walled community with stringent rules and regulations. Lido lost its natural ambiance with walls of cement, and part-time residents who are determined to cut down every majestic 70-year-old tree on the island, those that John Ringling planted so many years ago. Condos produced a small army of part-time residents who enjoy our area only when the weather is cold up North, and while they pay taxes on their property, they are absent for buying all the essentials on a year-round basis, leaving the grocers, the gas stations, the barber, the dress store, the restaurants all lacking for six months of revenue for the year.

“With all these changes, Sarasota and all its communities still remain a unique and exceptional place to live. Our heritage of John Ringling’s St. Armands Key, the Ringling Mansion and Museum, the bridges, and the layout of our barrier islands, all protected by Ringling with pines along the entire length of the beaches; the foresight of Venice to plan their city; the extension of the Trail by the Ringlings — all contribute to this matchless community’s history.

“Now, we all need to protect this gem called ‘Sarasota’ so its charm will last for generations to come.”

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: October 1, 2015
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.