Pedestrian Matters

By Susan Burns March 31, 2011


Pedestrian traffic is the lifeblood of successful cities, since people walking to shops, theaters, parks, drugstores and more create an exciting scene that attracts even more people and more commerce. But pedestrians face some challenges in downtown Sarasota, from the summer heat to our average age, which is older than in most cities. The Assignment Downtown Council of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, which focuses on bringing business and activity downtown, recently decided to find out just where people are walking in downtown Sarasota. Committee member Roger Barry, a professor emeritus in urban planning at the University of Cincinnati and a downtown resident, did the research using a variety of sources. It turns out that downtown Sarasota* has plenty of pedestrians and destinations (41 destinations with 7 million visits annually), but those destinations are spread apart in four distinct districts. That leads to the next question: How do we encourage people to walk when the activity centers aren’t clustered together? Send your ideas to Biz(941) editor Susan Burns at [email protected].

Top 10 Places People visit

Bayfront Park/Bayfront Businesses 800,000
Whole Foods 750,000
Selby Library 744,000
Publix 700,000
Hollywood 20 600,000
SCAT Transfer Station 500,000
Ringling Bridge 400,000
Walgreens 252,000
Hyatt Regency 178,000
Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota 165,000

District 1

Downtown Sarasota

Live Entertainment
Sarasota Opera House 100,000
Golden Apple Dinner Theatre 50,000
Florida Studio Theatre 140,000
First Methodist 63,800
Church of the Redeemer 62,900
First Baptist 50,000
St. Martha's 132,000
National Retail
Whole Foods 750,000
Brooks Brothers N/A
Sur La Table N/A
Public Services
Selby Library 744,000
Sarasota City Hall 29,900
Federal Building 2,600
Post Office 98,700
SCAT Transfer Station 500,000
Downtown Crafts Shows 12,500
Saturday Farmers Market 156,000
Special Events 216,000

Burns Court Cinema 106,300
Subtotal Annual Visits 3,215,000


District 2

Bayfront/Island Park

Bayfronot Park and bayfront business complex 800,000
Ringling Bridge/MURT 400,000
Selby Gardens 127,000
Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota 165,000
Subtotal annual visits 1,492,000


District 3

Cultural District

Live Entertainment
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall 101,000
Municipal Auditorium 75,000
Holley Hall, Sarasota 28,000
Players Theatre 65,000
Sarasota Visitors Center 75,000
West Coast Black Theatre 9,400
Hyatt 178,000
Hotel Indigo 40,000
National Retail
Publix 700,000
Subtotal annual visits 1,341,400


District 4


National Retail
Walgreens 252,000
First Presbyterian 68,000
Public Services
Payne Park Skate Park 14,500
Payne Auditorium 30,000
Tax Collector's Office 122,300
Property Appraiser's Office 7,400
Supervisor of Elections 6,000
Board of County Commissioners 2,500
Regal Cinemas, Hollywood 20 600,000
YMCA 18,200
Subtotal annual visits 1,120,900



*Downtown for the purposes of this survey is identical to the boundaries of the Community Redevelopment Area.

Filed under
Show Comments