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Bayfront 20:20 prepares for city workshop

In advance of a meeting with the City Commission, the leaders of Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 discussed how to plan the development of public land near the Van Wezel.

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  • | 3:11 p.m. February 22, 2016
Steven Wollf of AMS Planning & Research discusses the findings of the Van Wezel Foundation's needs assessment study at a Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 meeting Monday.
Steven Wollf of AMS Planning & Research discusses the findings of the Van Wezel Foundation's needs assessment study at a Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 meeting Monday.
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After two years of gathering community and stakeholder input on a vision for more than 40 acres of city-owned waterfront land, Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is beginning to focus on specifics.

The grassroots group, led by Chairman Michael Klauber and Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley, will meet with the City Commission at a workshop this evening. Bayfront 20:20, which touts the support of 50 community organizations to date, has been working to create a master plan for land surrounding the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The group has largely focused on big picture discussions. After establishing a series of guiding principles for the future of the land — and gathering support for a concept built around open public space and a campus for arts organizations— Bayfront 20:20 spent most of 2015 working on internal logistics.

As city staff produced a technical analysis of the bayfront area, the Van Wezel and Sarasota Orchestra studied their future needs, information that will eventually get incorporated into the planning process. At today’s workshop, the Van Wezel Foundation and Orchestra will present the findings of their studies — both of which called for the creation of a new performing arts hall.

In turn, Bayfront 20:20 leaders will discuss the next phase of their operation: actually devising a concrete plan for the bayfront land.

That process should involve the creation of a new, distinct planning organization focused on developing a master plan with city and stakeholder input, Klauber said at a Bayfront 20:20 workshop today. Both Klauber and Haley said the group was already discussing an operating structure for that new organization.

A preliminary fundraising effort is also underway, with early estimates pegging planning costs at $1 million. All planning funds would be privately raised, according to the presentation for Monday’s workshop. The presentation estimates that the planning effort would continue through December 2017, at which point the city would be asked to approve the master plan.

Although the planning organization would be a distinct entity, Klauber said the guiding principles and other research conducted by Bayfront 20:20 would continue to steer the decision-making process for the future of the land in question.

“All that data, all that information, all those dreams and goals will end up being assessed by that planning organization,” Klauber said. “It will be their job to come back with what will work for everyone.”

The City Commission has previously endorsed Sarasota Bayfront 20:20’s efforts, though officials cannot take any official action at today's workshop. Klauber said he hopes to provide more details on the mechanics of a planning organization — and the search for staff and a board of directors — within the next two months.


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