Town officials hope to hire a contractor this month to demolish the former Amore restaurant building, a preliminary step toward the eventual construction of the Longboat Key Arts, Culture and Education Center.
The former restaurant building, located next to the Publix Supermarket, was acquired by the town in January 2017 for $2.2 million as an addition to city-owned property already committed to the Arts, Culture and Education Center project.
Town Manager Tom Harmer said the deadline for bids is Nov. 16, and the contract should be awarded by the end of the month. Prospective bidders were given a familiarization tour of the property last week.
Demolition should take about six to eight weeks, Harmer said.
Longboat Key is using a $400,000 grant from Sarasota County to pay for the demolition and related site work. Once the former restaurant building is gone, the town plans to create a temporary open space for public events, such as concerts, exhibits and even movies for residents.
Harmer said the town will also need to mitigate a low-grade wetland site on the property before any sort of construction can begin. Plus, a portion of the property slopes and will have to be leveled to create the public space.
Ringling College of Art and Design will ultimately operate the Arts, Culture and Education Center, but construction will not begin until the estimated $18 million needed are raised. The Longboat Key Foundation plans to raise most of the money to pay for construction costs through philanthropy and endowments. Fundraising is expected to be completed by 2020, when the project’s design team will be selected.
Ringling has said it hopes to get the building constructed by 2023. Included in the plan are classrooms, a black box theater and other amenities.
The town will lease the site to Ringling on a long-term basis. The college would be responsible for the operations.
ACE would serve as a replacement venue for the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, which was located in the Longbeach Village neighborhood at the northern end of the Key before its demolition in mid-2017. Developer Jim Claubaugh bought that site and is building The Preserve, a residential development of dozen, $1 million-plus, single-family homes.