Bayfront 20:20 Roadmap Due Very Soon


Concrete development plans should start shaping up before end-2015 for the 42-acre waterfront from the Boulevard of the Arts up past the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall which the City of Sarasota owns.

Some pressing factors are breathing down on the necks of the prime movers of Bayfront 20:20, the broad-based community effort tasked with creating a more comprehensive roadmap for the strategic coastal public property, which at the end of the day could further burnish the marketability of Sarasota homes for sale.

Prod from expiring CRA

Bayfront 20:20 Roadmap Due Very Soon

Some sense of urgency is bearing down on this task force as any proposed development plan faces the possibility of losing a major source of potential funding under the downtown Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), a 30-year program created in 1986 which is scheduled to end by September 2016. Bayfront redevelopment advocates have looked upon the CRA as “crucial” to their aspirations to remake the waterfront.

Moves are afoot to extend the CRA, but this is unlikely to gain traction as the state-initiated CRAs were specifically intended to tackle economic blight and not to improve districts which have already been successfully developed. The CRA, funded jointly by the city and county, has previously helped finance several projects, such as the construction of a Whole Foods market, office buildings, and two parking garages.

Former Quay site project revived

Another matter that requires immediate attention is keeping Bayfront 20:20 plans and the development of the former Quay site near the bayfront city property in synch with each other. Jacksonville-based GreenPointe Holdings purchased this site for $27 million in December 2014. GreenPointe plans a phased development for the 15-acre site, eying residential, commercial, retail and hospitality components for the project.

The company is now girding to work with the city and other stakeholders to make its development an integral part in the connectivity of the Sarasota downtown and the Cultural Arts District, the master plan of which is likewise being reexamined.

The site plan for this property, which was formerly held by Irish American Management Services, is valid till 2017. It calls for a mixed-use development of 700 condo units, office space, and a hotel and restaurant. This Irish American plan, however, was overtaken by the last real estate collapse and the Great Recession, eventually leading to the company’s loan default on this property.

Plan’s outline shaping up

Three distinct efforts are currently underway towards the creation of the bayfront redevelopment roadmap. One is the compilation of data on the site and information gathering on environmental and logistical considerations, which has been assigned to a technical team composed of city staff. Another is research on best practices for project design, funding and management which is being handled by the Bayfront 20:20 leaders.

Two major stakeholders, Van Wezel Foundation and the Sarasota Orchestra are conducting needs assessments for possible expansion, and possibilities for the vacant G.WIZ (Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone) museum are also being examined. All the information gathered are expected to be synthesized by Bayfront 20:20 this September 2015 for a first glance on a roadmap which can help generate further interest on Sarasota homes for sale.