The goal was $150,000. The group started the night with $25,000.
By night’s end Monday and Tuesday morning, Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 was on the verge of reaching its goal.
“With a few more phone calls, I think we’ll be there,” said Michael Klauber, chairman of Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 and Visit Sarasota and co- owner of Michael’s on East.
Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is the organizing group working to create a new vision and master plan for 42 to 75 acres of Sarasota bayfront. It hosted an informational and fundraising reception for about 50 people Monday at Michael’s Wine Cellar in Sarasota.
The money is to fund the work of HR&A Advisors, a New York- based consulting firm that specializes in helping communities bring complex urban projects from vision to fruition.
Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is composed of a coalition of Sarasota neighborhood associations, performing arts and cultural organizations, foundations, Visit Sarasota and the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
Two representatives of HR&A gave attendees synopses of four urban projects they helped guide to reality — the Brooklyn Bridge Park; High Line park in New York City; Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati; and Romare Bearden Park in downtown Charlotte, N.C.
Candace Damon, vice chairman of HR&A, praised Sarasota 20:20’s efforts so far, noting it has already undertaken a few of the requisite steps in what is often a 10-year process.
One of the first and essential requisites in the process, Damon said, is community consensus building. To that end, Klauber said Monday’s reception was an effort “bring everyone together to hear the same message” and “ask for your support.”
“It’s a first step,” he said. “When people see this is real, it will bring more people to the table.”
As attendees filled out checks and pledge cards, Klauber told the group they should think of this project not just for generations to come but “as a contest — with the city of Bradenton.” Sarasota’s neighbor recently completed the redevelopment of its downtown riverfront.