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Longboat seeks Arts Center funding from Sarasota County

Town officials have asked Sarasota County for $400,000 to help offset the cost of developing a site plan and demolishing the Amore restaurant to build an Arts, Cultural and Education Center

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  • | 11:26 a.m. April 5, 2018
  • Longboat Key
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Longboat Key has petitioned Sarasota County for money to support the island’s proposed Arts, Cultural and Educational Center, a request Town Manager Tom Harmer said county official told him meets necessary criteria.

The town sought $400,000 in grants to help pay for demolishing the former Amore restaurant — which stands on property purchased by the town in 2017 for $2.2 million — and for designing a site plan for the Arts, Cultural and Educational Center.

This request for county funding expands the scope of a public-private partnership between Longboat Key and Ringling College of Art and Design to build the proposed structure, estimated to ultimately cost $18 million.

As the deal stands, Ringling will pay to construct the building and fund its programing while the town purchases the land and finances the site design. This proposal, if approved, would bring Sarasota County into the mix.

If approved, the funding would come from the county’s community reinvestment program, which is designed to fund “infrastructure in furtherance of the public interest,” according to county statutes.

The community reinvestment program has $1.4 million in its coffers.

“I believe this project is consistent with the intent of the program and meets their criteria,” Harmer said in an email to commissioners

The decision to appropriate these funds is left to the Sarasota County Commission. This grant would help offset the town’s cost in developing the center, Harmer said.

“If we can redevelop Town Center, it makes Sarasota County better,” Harmer said.



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