- November 19, 2021
The town plans to celebrate the generosity of its citizens Nov. 7 at a groundbreaking ceremony of the privately-funded Town Center stage.
The soon-to-be Karon Family Pavilion is part of the latest phase of improvements to the Town Center Green, a formerly undeveloped plot of land, a corner of which was once home to Amore restaurant.
“Through the generous support of the Karon family and other donors, the Karon Family Pavilion will provide the opportunity to stage performances, productions and more, adding the focal point to the already-planned outdoor venue that is currently under construction,” a press release from the town said.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. at 600 Bay Isles Road with refreshments to follow the ceremony.
For the stage, originally, the town had anticipated the project would cost about $500,000. One couple, Paul and Sarah Karon, opted to donate the entirety of that amount.
Town Manager Tom Harmer announced at the Nov. 15, 2021 commission meeting the couple’s plans to donate in exchange for naming rights.
However, after going out to bids, the final total came back to the town at about $860,000. The remaining money was raised with the help of about 12 other individuals, largely through the efforts of the Longboat Key Foundation.
The Foundation helped coordinate private fundraising for the 50-foot wide permanent stage between the Public Tennis Center and the Shoppes of Bay Isles. During the summer, Longboat Key leaders decided to allocate $50,000 of town funding to complete design and construction plans for a stage at the Town Center site.
The individuals are protected with anonymity by the foundation, which collected the donations. A plaque is planned that will reveal the names of donors who do not wish to remain anonymous at a later date, foundation Chair Jim Brown wrote previously.
Once the town acquired the donations, Harmer signed the contract with Jon F. Swift Construction of Sarasota in late July for the contractor to begin purchasing materials and completing the final design. Site work on the land is underway now.
Without the donations, the town still had plans to move forward with the remainder of the project and simply took the stage out of its plans.
The stage is part of a larger project to improve the Town Center Green. Site work for the town center is town-funded with about $530,000, which included $445,000 from the town’s land-acquisition fund. Work includes raising and re-grading the site with fill. Additional stormwater infrastructure will be installed to accommodate site work and with accommodations for future buildings, which might someday include a library that is part of the Sarasota County system and a community center. The town’s portion is funding walkways, streetlights, landscaping and space for food trucks.
County officials have funded in the current budget about $1 million toward initial studies of what sort of facility might be best suited for Longboat Key. Town officials have also had talks with officials of Sarasota County Schools.
The entire site covers about 4.81 acres. The town purchased the three parcels that complete the total site for about $3.7 million in 2017.