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Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Sarasota Friday, Nov. 29, 2019 6 months ago

Van Wezel to share update on plans for new venue

The City Commission will hear a presentation regarding a new bayfront performing arts center, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Representatives for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center and the Van Wezel Foundation will provide an update on plans for a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center at Monday's City Commission meeting.

According to material included with Monday’s agenda, the presentation will provide the commission with information about the effort to plan and construct a performing arts center on the bayfront to replace the city-owned Van Wezel facility.

The Van Wezel announced its intent to pursue a new venue in summer 2018, estimating the cost of such a project between $240 million and $270 million. Van Wezel leaders said the current facility is not sufficient for the organization’s programming needs.

During the afternoon session of the commission meeting, the board is also scheduled to consider elements of a tax-increment financing district to fund The Bay Sarasota project. The initial proposal calls for the city and county to dedicate 95% of new property tax revenue in an area surrounding the bayfront site toward The Bay project.

Proposed Sarasota bayfront TIF district boundaries
Within the TIF district, any increases in property tax revenue above the baseline year of 2019 would go toward bayfront redevelopment. Image courtesy city of Sarasota.

Under the proposal, the TIF district would be governed by a board with two city representatives, two county representatives, a representative for The Bay, a representative for the Sarasota Performing Arts Center, and a citizen appointed by the rest of the governing board. 

Earlier this year, the city and county expressed different philosophies on how to design a TIF district to fund The Bay. Although some city leaders have pushed for a broader district, county officials said they wanted a narrowly defined TIF focused solely on paying for the bayfront redevelopment. In July, the city agreed to focus the TIF funding on the bayfront project.

Also on the agenda for Monday’s commission meeting:

  • The city will consider finalizing the adoption of new zoning regulations in the Rosemary District. The Rosemary Residential Overlay District would establish a baseline residential density of 40 units per acre and allow for density increases in exchange for the production of affordable housing.
  • The board will discuss a proposed construction staging agreement with Sarasota County that would allow the use of a portion of Ted Sperling Park as a staging area for a Lido Key renourishment project.
  • The commission will discuss potential changes to regulations regarding sidewalk closures associated with private construction projects.

The full agenda for Monday’s meeting is available on the city website.

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