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Longboat Key Friday, Jul. 9, 2021 1 year ago

Longboat Key to spend up to $50K on Town Center stage designs

Town commissioners are set to review design of Town Center's next big step in September.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key is planning to complete design and construction plans for a stage at the Town Center site with up to $50,000 of town funding.

The plan is for the Town Commission to review the initial design work for the stage on Sept. 13 after its summer recess.

 “I wouldn’t want to go down the design phase if the majority of the commission says, ‘We don’t like this design,’” Town Manager Tom Harmer said. “Now, it’s going to evolve because it’s a concept.”

Longboat Key is working with Gary Hoyt of the Sarasota-based firm Hoyt Architects, which provided the Town Commission with several stage concept renderings.

Hoyt Architects provided the Town Commission with these renderings of a stage concept. Photo provided by the town of Longboat Key.

Hoyt Architects provided a preliminary estimate of the stage to cost between $500,000 and $600,000.

Public Works Director Isaac Brownman wrote a June 25 memo to Harmer about other stage costs. It includes the cost of completing the design; construction-level documents; and outfitting the stage with audio, video and lighting equipment.

“It is not unusual for actual event organizers to provide their own sound and lighting equipment for specific performances, depending on the type of presentation or event,” Brownman wrote.

Hoyt Architects said it would take between three to four months to complete the design. The firm estimated the total cost design to range between $75,000 - $90,000, which does not include audio/video and rigging design:

  • Estimated design cost, including structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing: $70,000 - $80,000
  • Estimated acoustical engineer cost: $5,000 - $10,000

The nonprofit organization Longboat Key Foundation is helping the town raise money to fund the project.

Former Mayor and Longboat Key Foundation Chair Jim Brown appeared before the Town Commission on July 2. Brown said he thinks the town should work with Hoyt to make the stage less expensive.

“You probably heard my statement, never trust an architect’s estimate. I’m an architect,” Brown said. “Every time I gave a client an estimate, it was usually too low, but I just think that the town doesn’t need to spend $600,000 on a stage when they can probably get one for $200,000.”

Hoyt Architects provided the Town Commission with these renderings of a stage concept. Photo provided by the town of Longboat Key.

Brown acknowledged the stage’s roof must be designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. He said the Longboat Key Foundation has scheduled meetings in the coming weeks to identify potential donors.

“We have a fairly significant list of individuals on the Key who are known contributors to things like this,” Brown said.

Harmer said there is an opportunity for the possibility of the town finding a large donor in exchange for naming rights to the stage.

“We’ve talked about naming rights for several years, and the stage is one of those opportunities,” Harmer said. “If there’s a large donor that wanted to do that, then we’d be happy to meet with them and kind for talk through that.” 

Harmer also acknowledged the Town Commission would need to approve the naming rights of a public facility.

“I think it’s a great idea,” At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop said. “If you want to give us $500,000 to get that stage built or more to get the whole facility, the Town Center, built with buildings, I’d say, ‘We’ll name it anything you’d like us to name it.’ Just write the check.”

Longboat Key leaders continue to search for a partner to help support a privately funded facility. The Town Center is expected to operate at a “minimal cost” to the town, a change in strategy from an original concept without the of public money beyond the land itself, which was purchased in 2018. 

The town must figure out how to move forward after Ringling College of Art and Design stepped back from its relationship with Longboat Key in 2019 after five years of discussion.

Respondents to Longboat Key’s second annual citizen survey said they would be “somewhat” or “very likely” to attend the following types of events at the Town Center:

  • Farmers markets (94%)
  • Art shows / craft festivals (87%)
  • Outdoor concerts (83%)

Respondents favored a multi-purpose space for live performances such as theater and music (66.1%), as well as additional spaces for art exhibits (46.1%) and active recreation (41.4%), such as exercise, dance and yoga classes.

The Town Center land, bordered by the Public Tennis Center, a shopping center parking lot, the former parking lot of Amore restaurant and offices along Bay Isles Road, was designed to accommodate a potential Arts, Culture and Education Center building. 

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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