//The Future of The Sarasota Bayfront

The Future of The Sarasota Bayfront

 

A.G. Lafley is chairman of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization.

Overview of Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization. 

With great excitement, I am happy to report that key milestones have been reached in the effort to re-envision the future of the Sarasota Bayfront.

Our community has been involved over last three years in creating a vision and guiding principles for the 42-acre waterfront site in the city of Sarasota, bounded to the west by our magnificent bay, to the north by Centennial Park, to the east by U.S. 41, and to the south by Boulevard of the Arts.

The “Vision Statement,” created through the dedicated efforts of Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 and its 55 stakeholder groups, is as follows: “We support the creation of a long-term master plan for the Sarasota bayfront area that will establish a cultural and economic legacy for the region while ensuring open, public access to the bayfront.”

An abbreviated version of the “Implementation Guiding Principles” in support of the vision are:

• Aspiration — an iconic, public destination that welcomes the diversity of Sarasota, enhances our status as a cultural capital, is multi-generational and broad based.

• Cultural Legacy — the identity as a cultural, art and educational destination will be strengthened.

• Bayfront/Natural Assets — welcoming, safe, publicly accessible, with enhanced views.

• Activation — outdoor cultural, recreational and education programming.

• Connectivity — greatly improved and safe connectivity for all means of transportation.

• Sustainability — ecological, economic and financial sustainability through a continuous public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Once the City Commission accepted this vision and its accompanying guiding principles in February 2016, the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization was established to identify a master-planning team to create a design that is financially feasible, operationally viable and environmentally sustainable. This effort is being fully funded by the private sector and local foundations, without any government funding.

Creating a master plan begins with a comprehensive Request for Qualifications, a document that outlines the project, specifies the types of master-planning team credentials that are desired, and asks for a response for qualified professionals. On July 18, this RFQ for our bay area was finalized and released to the local, national and international design communities. We are now one major step closer to defining the possibilities for this coveted, exceptional community asset — this special slice of our bay and its bordering properties.

Over the next eight weeks, we will be receiving responses from urban design teams from across the world. This pool will be narrowed to a small group of finalists who will be interviewed in the fall. By November, the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization’s selected master-planning team will begin an extensive process of creating a plan that fulfills our vision and is true to the guiding principles, while eliciting the hopes that individual community members and stakeholders hold for the site.

The volunteer planning organization has also launched The Bay, a singular brand to unify the messaging within the community about this vital project. It is my hope that The Bay will stand the test of time and deliver a clear, unified message while allowing for clear explanations for outreach, fundraising and communication efforts as our vision toward a revitalized and sustainable bayfront moves forward.

Keep up to date on our new website, www.TheBaySarasota.org.

On behalf of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, I am delighted to share the good news of our progress and, as we proceed, invite our citizens to begin imagining the possibilities of our bay.

A.G. Lafley is chairman of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization.