Bayfront redevelopment wins support

Editor & Publisher

After more than five years in the making, the master plan to develop 53 acres of City-owned land along the Bayfront has been approved by the Sarasota City Commission.

The Commission gave approval to the overall proposal that includes three pedestrian bridges over U.S. 41 to connect the residential communities with the Bayfront.

The Commission two weeks ago gave permission for the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization to implement Phase One of the project. That phase will cost about $20 million and will go toward the southern portion of the new park.

Phase One will create green space, a pier for recreation, a roundabout, as well as one of the pedestrian crossings on U.S. 41. Food and beverages operations will also be implemented in the plan. Phase One will incorporate about 10 acres of the entire site.

Phase One A will come next and includes parking as well as a 3,000 square foot restaurant.

The master plan calls for a new Van Wezel theater and a repurposing of the existing performance hall. There will be a waterfront pier as well. The existing Municipal Auditorium, blue pagoda building, History Center, Garden Club, and amphitheater and event lawn will all be part of the project.

The entire initiative started five years ago, with Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 plan, which restaurateur Michael Klauber used to lead. The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization grew out of the Bayfront 20:20 group. The Planning Organization raised funds and selected Sasaki to develop the plan for the 53-acre site.

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