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News Longboat Key Foundation Chairman Bob Simmons with Vice Mayor David Brenner, board members Warren Simonds, Jeff Mayers, Jim Brown and Tom Aposporos. File
Longboat Key Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 5 years ago

Longboat Key Arts Center begins to take shape

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The Longboat Key Foundation will reveal details at the Longboat Key Town Commission workshop at 2 p.m. Dec. 12.
by: Terry O’Connor News Editor

Plans for the $10 million Longboat Key Center for Arts, Culture and Education appear to be moving forward, despite a history of delays.

And come Tuesday, residents may get the most concrete details of the proposed 40,000-square-foot center.

Pat Zunz, former Longboat Key commissioner and a member of the Longboat Key Foundation board of advisers, said the Town Commission workshop Tuesday will feature an engineer’s report on what is allowed on the site just east of Publix Super Market at Shoppes of Bay Isles.

“Plans are still in the early stages,” Zunz said.

But former Mayor Jim Brown said his interest is piqued by what could be a momentous report.

Brown, a member of the foundation’s board of advisers, said he started working on this project in 2002 as member of the former Community Center Advisory Committee, but infighting slowed progress.

“We had to change the whole community board because everybody got at each other’s throats,” he said.

He said the report could come with a proposal from the Ringling College of Art and Design, which has signed a memorandum of understanding with the town pledging to develop plans to build, fund and run the arts and cultural center.

“What I really believe will happen is someone representing Ringling will present a concept and request support to get this thing moving,” Brown said.

The Longboat Key Foundation, an advisory board created in 2012 and affiliated with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, projects the Center for Arts, Culture and Education will serve as the cultural town center with classes for lifelong learning, small stage productions, lectures, concerts and intellectual discussions.

Zunz said three or four years ago, there was still debate whether the island needed a center with similar amenities so nearby in Sarasota. 

“The problems we have with traffic makes this that much more of a viable option,” Zunz said.

The cultural center will be owned by the town and managed by Ringling College under a long-term lease.

Susan Goldfarb will move the Longboat Key Education Center to the development once it is complete, Zunz said.

Former Longboat Key Vice Mayor David Brenner, a member of the Longboat Key Foundation, said Ringling will likely receive the go-ahead for its plans at Tuesday's meeting. He said the plans were still in the “very rough-draft stages.”

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