Sarasota Artists’ Hub Eyed in North Trail


An initiative is underway which can be expected to further bolster the reputation of Sarasota as the Cultural Coast, a trait which has attracted many creative hands, hearts and minds to settle in this part of Southwest Florida. Through the combined efforts from the private and government sectors, a comprehensive feasibility study was launched recently for the establishment of an artists’ enclave in Sarasota’s historic North Trail corridor. What’s being considered for this locality, regarded as Sarasota’s front door from the airport, is what could be the 36th facility under Artspace, an affordable live/work community for artists and arts organizations.

The only Artspace development so far in Florida is in Fort Lauderdale as a plan for such a facility was put on hold in Tallahassee. Thirteen other cities across the US, including New York, Portland and Reno, host an Artspace facility. The Sarasota City Commission and the Sarasota Alliance for Historical Preservation have contributed funding for the feasibility study on the proposed North Trail Artspace, while the Arts Alliance of Sarasota County is sponsoring the effort.

Key to neighborhood revitalization

Sarasota Artists’ Hub Eyed in North Trail

Consultants from Artspace have already toured the North Trail neighborhoods and held focus group discussions with the local residents at a public meeting they called at the University of South-Florida-Sarasota Manatee. Besides providing affordable live/work community for artists, Artspace also revitalizes a neighborhood with the synergy it creates.

The development projects under Artspace involve not only new construction but can likewise include restoration and historic preservation. Between 40 and 70 units are built in an average Artspace facility. The artists’ live/work residences are developed along with shared common spaces.

An Artspace development should help boost property values in its locality. Sustainability and green energy standards are followed in Artspace developments. Compatible commercial establishments, such as restaurants which can function as galleries are included as well, thus creating synergy within the surrounding communities.

Local success stories

The dynamism that art facilities can bring to neighborhoods can best be appreciated in the Sarasota downtown condos, particularly those around historic Palm Avenue. An art walk is held in this area each first Friday of the month, featuring a themed event revolving around gallery tours, live music, street dancing, and dining.

The vitality that arts and culture can bring to a community can likewise be seen in the Historic Village of Sarasota along Fruitville Road. This neighborhood, composed of cottages circa 1920s, has successfully transformed itself into a hub for art-oriented shops, galleries, and restaurants. It has also replicated the Palm Avenue art walk, holding its own event every fourth Friday of the month.

The makeover of this village aptly complements the individual charm of its equally historic neighboring communities. This can contribute to the potential value appreciation of residential properties and strengthen buyer interest in the entire locality.