Longboat Art Center Move: A New Inspiration to Bay Isles


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, April 6th, 2017 – An inspiring cultural dimension will soon be added to the communities and neighborhoods of Bay Isles as plans are being firmed up for a new facility nearby that would replace the Longboat Key Center of the Arts set to close this May.

The arts center’s site in Longbeach Village at the north end of the island is being sold to a private property developer.  This yet unnamed buyer has been reported as planning to build single-family homes in the center’s 2.3-acre property which is notably just west of Bayou Hammock, a haven for high-end Longboat Key real estate for sale.

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Longboat Art Center Move: A New Inspiration to Bay Isles

The Town of Longboat Key is collaborating with Ringing College on the planning of the new arts facility which would be known as the Longboat Key Center for Arts, Culture and Education. Originally, it was set for 2.8 acres at the town center just west of Bay Isles development. The planned arts center will now get extra elbow room with the recent approval of the town’s purchase of the adjacent 2-acre site of Amore restaurant.

Broad strokes of the plan being developed include the town owning the arts center, with Ringling College operating it under a long-term lease. While the college is tasked to run the cultural facility, the town can also use it for public meetings.

The Longboat Key Foundation, which has championed efforts for the arts center, will raise the funds for the project. Most of the funding for the construction will be raised through philanthropy or donations, while endowments will be sought to supplement the art center’s operating costs.

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The foundation will begin its fundraising campaign soon after architects and contractors have been picked to determine the estimated cost for the project. The task force chairman of Longboat Key Foundation Arts, Culture and Education Building, Warren Simonds, said that the center could open in two years.

Dr. Larry R. Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design, noted that interest in arts, culture, and education is high in Longboat Key. A new facility located in a more central location, he added, would allow for better opportunities to serve all Longboat Key residents.

Some opportunities in the property market would eventually be in play as well with the town buying the Amore restaurant site for about $2 million. The property’s owner, Howard Rooks, is a prominent local investor who intends to buy another restaurant to relocate his staff at Amore which will officially close this end-May.

Additionally, the plan to build single family homes at the Longboat Key Center of the Arts’ property in Longbeach Village would be a much-needed boost to the stock of available homes in this historic neighborhood. Currently, there are just eight sales listings in this north Longboat community.

Atop this list is a 1950s vintage waterfront home at Hammock Bayou priced at $1.65 million. This charming residence features four bedrooms and three baths within a floor area of close to 2,800 square feet. It flaunts an “Old Florida” setting with a craftsmanship and elegance that too could be equated with the renewed cultural vitality that the town’s new arts center soon would bring.