Master Plan on way for City Bayfront

The planning of the 42-acre City-owned property encircling the Van Wezel moved closer to fruition last week.

Planning firm Sasaki was selected by the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization to proceed with a master plan of the property now dubbed “The Bay.”

The selection occurred after an open and intensive interview process that involved four design and planning firm finalists shortlisted from among 22 firms who provided submissions in response to the Planning and Development Committee’s Request for Qualifications.

One of four firms shortlisted and interviewed at publicly-noticed meetings in early October, SBPO will invite Sasaki to formalize a contract for master planning services. The contract will be worth about $800,000.

Sasaki was ranked highest in professional qualifications, and criteria outlined for the interview, including:

• Demonstrated capability and experience to navigate the opportunities and challenges associated with our specific bayfront transformation and development project.

• Observed competence, leadership and communication skills of the design firms proposed project manager.

• Observed design team dynamics and effectiveness including sensitivity to the vision and guiding principles established for the project, and to the expressed needs and wants of both the community, city and Planning and Development Committee during the interviews.

“Our collective judgement is that Sasaki would be the best fit for Sarasota’s specific bayfront development opportunity, and the best planning partner for the SBPO, the city and the community,” said AG Lafley, SBPO Board Chair.

Lafley continued, “Sasaki has successfully designed, planned and executed waterfront and civic public space developments around the world. They have worked closely, cooperatively and successfully with arts and cultural institutions going through similar transformations of the same scale. Finally, the Sasaki team’s enthusiasm and passion clearly connected with the community and the Board and created palpable energy at the interview sessions.”

“In talking with the community through this process, we heard many times that the bayfront is a great source of pride – a place that truly makes Sarasota unique and special,” said Gina Ford, Landscape Architect, Principal, and team leader for Sasaki. “Planning for its future will ensure long-term economic and environmental sustainability while enlivening the site and improving public access and interest for all neighborhoods and citizens. We are thrilled to build on the great visioning work already completed and help create a tangible master plan vision for this extraordinary site.”

The selection of Sasaki as design and planning firm partner marks the culmination of a one-year pre-planning process by SBPO that included a RFQ solicitation of world-class design and planning firms as well as a four-year community and city awareness-raising and engagement process that focused the community the initiative to develop Sarasota’s bayfront and realize the aspirations and guiding principles the city and community have agreed upon.

Four teams were invited to interview following the RFQ deadline of September 1:  Cooper Robertson, Perkins + Will, Rogers Partners and Sasaki. On October 3 and 4, each of the four teams spent four hours with the SBPO and dozens of members of the Sarasota community, discussing their preliminary thoughts on redevelopment challenges and opportunities, also demonstrating their capacity to engage productively with the SBPO and Sarasota citizens.

Ultimately, the SBPO reached the conclusion that Sasaki had risen above the rest.

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO), a 501(c)(3) corporation, was formed in 2016, building on work completed by the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 organization to advance the development of City-owned land along the Sarasota Bayfront. This private-public partnership is headed by a nine-person board with a diverse set of competencies, and is privately funded by the private sector and local foundations, including The Patterson Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Selby Foundation, Barancik Foundation and Berlin Foundation.

The SBPO is tasked with ensuring the delivery of a master plan for the development of the 42-acre Sarasota Bayfront in accordance with the Guiding Principles established by Bayfront 20:20 constituents which were adopted and approved by the City of Sarasota.


The SBPO will propose an operating structure that will manage the Sarasota Bayfront Project during and following construction

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