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Seven organizations have begun an effort to develop a vision and master plan for land along the Sarasota bayfront, including the area around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Sarasota Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 3 years ago

Sarasota organizations push for bayfront planning

by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

A group of Sarasota organizations are working together to draw up a vision for the future of the city’s bayfront.

In an effort led by Visit Sarasota County, seven organizations have begun pushing for the creation of a long-term master plan that will guide the development of up to 75 acres of land on the Sarasota bayfront. The group hopes to gain the city’s blessing to bring in a consulting firm to begin a conversation between public and private entities about what should ultimately be done with that land.

The area under consideration would include the city-owned “Cultural Park” around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the property that housed the GWIZ Science Museum. It would also include the adjacent, privately owned Quay and Proscenium properties.

The groups that have committed to supporting the initial stages of this plan include:

• Visit Sarasota County
• Van Wezel Foundation
• Sarasota Orchestra
• Arts Alliance of Sarasota County
• Gulf Coast Community Foundation
• Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
• Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County

Michael Klauber, chairman of the Visit Sarasota County Board of Directors, said the chance to potentially develop such a large swath of land demanded a community visioning process. Klauber said the conversation would soon expand to include neighborhood groups and the city itself.

“Together, we have an opportunity to create a lasting legacy and pathway for the successful future of our vibrant community,” Klauber wrote in a letter.

The city has expressed an interest in revisiting its 2007 Cultural Park Master Plan, and Klauber said he expected City Manager Tom Barwin to present on the topic at next Monday's City Commission meeting. Klauber said the initial cost of bringing in the consulting firm — HR&A, a group that has worked on the development of public spaces in New York and Washington, D.C. — was already covered, and the first steps could be carried out without any financial support from the city.

”It's far away from figuring out what goes where and what needs to be in this corner,” Klauber said. “This is just a very broad look at what needs to be thought about before you really start going down this road.”

Contact David Conway at [email protected].

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