St. Armands Circle, by contrast, continues to demonstrate its resilience as a retail node, decades after circus magnate John Ringling first developed it. No area rivals it, including downtown Sarasota. Vacancies are backfilled quickly and efficiently without a lengthy lapse in time, and rental rates have remained largely steady despite economic conditions. While the growth in tourism has helped -- as has an improvement district comprised of motivated landlords -- the area has performed exceptionally well in no small measure because residents and visitors consider it safe and clean. Dedicated merchants seem to continually strive to cultivate the circle’s unique setting and ambiance. If downtown Sarasota ever hopes to fully reach its potential as a shopping and entertainment destination, it will have to emulate much of what has made St. Armands a success.