The Bay of Sarasota continues to advance plans for the 10-acre first phase of the waterfront park near downtown, following the unanimous approval of the City Commission’s latest proposal.
The Bay, a private group working with the city to redevelop more than 50 acres of city-owned bayfront land surrounding the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, updated commissioners on its work at Monday’s meeting. The Bay presented a revised version of its proposal for Phase 1 of the park, which sits along Boulevard of the Arts on the southern portion of the site.
In response to community input, The Bay’s plans have evolved from those presented earlier in the summer. Planners modified the design of a circular boardwalk, reoriented the layout of a food and beverage service area and reduced the size of an open-space lawn from two acres to one acre, among other changes.
The first phase is estimated to cost $20 million to $25 million. The Bay said it has already secured $11.5 million in philanthropic contributions, including a $1 million donation announced Friday from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in partnership with an anonymous donor. That total does not include $3 million in matching donations the Patterson Foundation previously committed.
Bill Waddill, The Bay’s chief implementation officer, said the group hoped to obtain all of its necessary approvals by next summer and for the first phase to open by late 2021.
Several speakers at Monday’s meeting applauded The Bay’s work and encouraged the city to move quickly toward final approval. Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, was one of several in attendance who expressed excitement about the project’s potential.