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$2.6M of funding for The Bay nets City Commission approval

The city's half of more than $5.2 million from tax increment financing revenue will be deposited into the Bay Park Trust Fund. The county is expected to approve its share next.

An aerial view of the completed first phase of The Bay.
An aerial view of the completed first phase of The Bay.
Courtesy image
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As work continues on the second phase of The Bay, half of the next infusion of capital into the Bay Park Trust Fund has been approved by the Sarasota City Commission. 

On Monday, commissioners unanimously approved the transfer of just more than $2.6 million in tax increment financing (TIF) revenues for fiscal year 2025, that amount is expected to be matched by the Sarasota County Commission at its next meeting. 

Per an interlocal agreement, the city and county created the TIF district on land surrounding the 53-acre city property, from which the revenues from the tax value on improvements of properties within the district are earmarked for the trust fund. The TIF district includes properties such as The Quay.

The city and the county each transfer equal amounts to the trust fund annually, but still require commission approval. The County Commission is expected to take up the matter at its next scheduled meeting. The Bay Park Conservancy, the nonprofit responsible for the construction and management of the site, is obligated to pay for half of the project, estimated at a total of $200 million.

Oversight is provided by The Bay Park Improvement Board, composed of two city commissioners, two county commissioners, and a member of the public. On March 29, the board unanimously recommended approval of the transfer by their respective commissions.

“I've been coming to Sarasota since 1998. We've been full-time residents since 2009. I have not been in another venue in the city that attracts the full and rich and complete diversity of our community,” said BPC Founding CEO AG Lafley of The Bay. “It's absolutely amazing. We feel incredibly good and you should feel incredibly good about what you've created so far in terms of one park for all.”

The first phase of The Bay opened 18 months ago, which Lafley reported has attracted 440,000 visits. More importantly, the work there has resulted in treating more than 70 million gallons of polluted stormwater that passes through the site and into Sarasota Bay.

With a budget of $65 million, the second phase of The Bay includes dredging the 10th Street canal and building day docks on the south side of the boat launch area, installing a resilient shoreline and construction of the Sunset Pier. Among the Culture District improvements along U.S. 41, the long-vacant Chidsey Building will be renovated into the offices and operations center for the Bay Park Conservancy. The Blue Pagoda building, which currently holds the visitors center and offices, will house an expanded visitors center.



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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