Sarasota Bayfront redevelopment plan underway

Master planning 53 prime Bayfront acres is perhaps the most challenging and yet exciting undertaking the Sarasota community has embarked upon.

In 2018, Sasaki, the design firm hired to plan the Bayfront project, unveiled a revised draft of its Master Plan that was met with enthusiasm at its community unveiling. The City Commission subsequently approved the master plan.

The acreage spans from G-Wiz on the south and follows the Bayfront including the Van Wezel, the 10th Street Boat Ramp, the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium and the expansive parking lot.

Sasaki has spent about half a year receiving feedback from tens of thousands of residents and received more than 3,000 surveys with residents offering clear opinions that collectively shaped the plan.

The majority of residents, according to Sasaki, wanted Bayfront pedestrian accessibility, the presence of signature cultural amenitites such as the Van Wezel, as well as passive recreation, a boat ramp and dining opportunities in the future redevelopment.

The Master Plan shows these amenities and more and includes numerous pedestrian bridges, a pier, a one-acre event lawn, a new Van Wezel, a bait and tackle shop, botanical gardens, and a 3,000-4,000 square foot restaurant.

The largest component of the redevelopment of the city-owned acreage which has been dubbed “The Bay” will be a new Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. According to the Van Wezel Director, the current Hall has numerous failing systems as well as configuration challenges in its seating as well as lobby areas.

According to Sasaki, the cost for the entire redevelopment will range from $340 million to $420 million.

The Sarasota Orchestra announced to the Sarasota City Commission that it would not be part of the Bayfront Plan and would find a new home within the city.

The Orchestra, which employs about 300 people, will rely on both public and private financial support to pay for the new building. According to the Sarasota Orchestra, the number of years to develop the Bayfront would preclude other options.

The Orchestra used 2018 to search for a location and development cost to initiate a fundraising campaign.

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1 Response for “Sarasota Bayfront redevelopment plan underway”

  1. Capt. Chris Brackett says:

    Looking at the plans, has anyone involved in this project been to the boat ramp on any weekend, boaters now are having to park on the grass, on the dividers and in the middle lanes. There is NOT ENOUGH PARKING as it is, and now you want decrease the amount of parking. #2 Making the ramp smaller will cause any number of issues. The amount of boaters has increased each year causing back ups for people loading and unloading. #3 the rendering shows what seems to be a rock jetty to protect the ramp from waves and wind. Here is the problem, most boat exiting and entering the ramp have T-tops installed which can be as tall as 8 feet from the waterline so unless the jetty is at least 8 feet in height, it will do nothing for wind causing boats to drift into the rocks, remember a lot of boat owners do not have experience holding a vessel still in high winds. A bad design as this is can lead to vessel damage and personal injury and possible law suits. #4 As a professional fishing guide and captain, the loading and unloading of clients can become very dangerous looking at the design, there seems to be no docking space to moor a boat next to the ramp. boat ramp etiquette has become a problem as it is, the new design will do nothing but compound this problem. The designers need to visit 10th street boat ramp on a busy weekend, sit for a few hours, watch the circus and re think the design, maybe talk to the regular ramp users such as myself and others to get a better idea of what is really needed.

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