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Developing The Bay Park

The Journey Continues

Born from a group of community stakeholders, the journey to The Bay has continued to evolve.


Bayfront 20:20

Bayfront 20:20 is formed. The goal was to create consensus among community and neighborhood leaders about what the future could be for the bayfront. A vision statement was created to allow for broad community support and input: “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.”


Sarasota City Commission adopts the Guiding Principles

Through the outreach of Bayfront 20:20, community groups begin to sign on board for a unified common vision statement. A crucial accomplishment is the development of Implementation Guiding Principles in support of the vision. The Sarasota City Commission adopts the Guiding Principles to guide bayfront redevelopment efforts.


SBPO is formed as a non-profit 501 (c)(3)

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization is formed as a non-profit 501 (c)(3). Comprised of a nine-member citizen volunteer board, this group is tasked with searching for a master planning firm and presenting a vibrant and sustainable master plan for the City of Sarasota and its community that is fiscally feasible, operationally viable, and environmentally sustainable for the 42-acre Municipal Bayfront site.


Sasaki chosen for master plan of The Bay

After an exhaustive global search, Sasaki is chosen to proceed with a master plan of The Bay. The selection occurred after an open and intensive interview process that involved 4 design and planning firm finalists shortlisted from among 22 firms who provided submissions in response to the Request for Qualification.


City Commission approved the Master Plan

On September 6, 2018, the Sarasota City Commission approved the Master Plan developed by the SBPO and Sasaki. The SBPO will take the next steps to evolve into the permanent organization, the Bay Park Conservancy (BPC), that will partner with the City of Sarasota to develop, implement and maintain The Bay Master Plan.


Bay Park Conservancy is created

On January 1, 2019, The Bay evolved from a community coalition to a park conservancy, creating the Bay Park Conservancy (BPC), in order to create, co-fund, build, and operate a park for our community and our city.


City commissioners vote unanimously to approve the partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy

On April 15th, 2019, the Sarasota City Commission unanimously voted to approve the partnership between the city and The Bay Park Conservancy, allowing the organization to take the lead on new building developments and authorizing them to move forward with the first phase of the project. This partnership between the Bay Park Conservancy and Sarasota has made way for immense developments in the 53-acre city-owned bayfront land project. The agreement has been seen as a monumental step forward in conservation, connecting the city and the community.


The Patterson Foundation invests up to $5 Million into The Bay

On May 16th, 2019, The Patterson Foundation announced its contribution of up to $5 million toward the first phase of The Bay, a redevelopment project committed to revitalizing over 50 bayfront acres in downtown Sarasota. The organization will donate an initial $2 million to the project and will add an additional $1 million for every $5 million in private donations toward the first phase of the project, which emphasizes the redevelopment of 10 acres on the south end of the project site along Boulevard of the Arts.


Restoration of the Ecological Shoreline

On August 20, The Bay finished the first environmentally revitalized piece of The Bay Park, the resilient ecological shoreline. The shoreline stabilization solution was brought to The Bay through the collaboration of the City of Sarasota, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Resilience, and Coastal Protection’s Resilient Coastlines program. It features the restoration of an existing living shoreline, and replacement of an old, crumbling seawall with a sloping shoreline that dissipates wave energy.


Sarasota City Commission Approves The Bay Implementation Plan for Phase 1

On September 16, commissioners were unanimous in clearing the project to take its next steps, which will include community workshops, two public hearings and a stop at the city’s Planning Board before returning to them. In a compelling first phase, following an unprecedented and inclusive master planning process, The Bay Park Conservancy is designing, implementing, and programming a 10-acre public park that will serve as the Living and Learning Lab.


The Bay Sarasota files site plan for first phase

The Bay Sarasota has filed plans with the city for the first phase of a long-term bayfront redevelopment effort, submitting site-specific proposals for what the group envisions as a living and learning lab and a park for all of Sarasota. The Bay submitted the site plan application to the city on Dec. 16.


The Bay Fountain Garden Opens

On January 15, The Bay Park Conservancy announced that the Fountain Garden in The Bay Park is now open to the public. The Fountain Garden, located on the corner of Boulevard of the Arts and North Tamiami Trail, features Florida-friendly vegetation, walking paths, park benches, and a restored fountain in a historic pond. The milestone occasion was celebrated alongside friends, supporters, and key stakeholders.


Mangrove Bayou Walkway Groundbreaking

On January 31, The Bay Park Conservancy celebrated the start of construction on the Mangrove Bayou Walkway with a public groundbreaking ceremony that took place on The Great Lawn overlooking Sarasota Bay. The Conservancy’s founding CEO, AG Lafley, and Chief Implementation Officer, Bill Waddill, as well as Sarasota Mayor Jennifer Ahearn Koch and Chair of Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Rebecca Harris Barancik, offered brief remarks alongside donors, stakeholders, and city staff.


The Bay Participates in the Giving Challenge

In April, nearly 500 Friends of The Bay contributed to The Bay Park during the 2020 Giving Challenge, a 24-hour virtual fundraiser held by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. During the event, The Bay raised more than $135,000 including matches for both the number of donors and dollars donated.


The Western Mangrove Walkway Opens

In October, the western portion of the Mangrove Bayou is revitalized with a new pedestrian/bike-friendly walkway and the addition of new landscaping and benches. 


The Bay Achieves Fundraising Milestone

In November, through a generous $5 million match challenge from The Patterson Foundation, the BPC raised $15 million towards its $20 million initial funding goal. These private contributions from foundations, philanthropists and individual donors will be combined with support from government sources to fund the capital cost of the first phase of The Bay Park.


Sarasota City and County Government Approve Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for The Bay

The week of November 2, both the City and County Commissions voted to finalize an interlocal agreement to create a tax increment financing (TIF) district for The Bay. Over the next 30 years, the TIF will help create sustainable funding for The Bay Park and the future Sarasota Performing Arts Center.


The Bay Reaches 1,000+ “Founding” Friends of The Bay

Thanks to hundreds of generous and enthusiastic supporters, The Bay finished 2020 with over 1,000 “Founding” Friends of The Bay.


Site Plan Approval

In March, the Phase 1 Site Plan was approved 4-1 by the Sarasota City Commission. With the city’s endorsement, construction continues on the first phase of The Bay Park.


Mangrove Bayou Ribbon Cutting

On March 25, The Bay Park Conservancy celebrated the completion of the Mangrove Bayou Walkway with a ribbon cutting ceremony alongside friends, supporters and key stakeholders. Attendees included Mayor Hagen Brody, Commissioner Al Maio, Drayton Saunders, Howard and Sherry Davis, Richard Antoine, Bart and Elaine Boyer and more.


The Eastern Mangrove Bayou Walkway Opens

In April, the eastern portion of the Mangrove Bayou Walkway, the half-mile, 10-ft. wide sidewalk that winds around the coastal wetlands in The Bay Park, officially opened for public use.


The Bay Park Conservancy Reaches Fundraising Milestone

Thanks to generous community donors, The Bay has raised a second $5 million from private sources, triggering a second $1 million match from The Patterson Foundation’s current challenge match.

This additional match marks the second major milestone in The Patterson Foundation’s challenge for the $24 million capital campaign announced in July 2021, which has now generated over $12 million from private philanthropic, community sources, and matches.


Amended Partnership Agreement Approved

On November 15, 2021, the second amendment to the Partnership Agreement between the City of Sarasota and the BPC was approved unanimously by the Sarasota City Commission. This milestone allows The Bay Park Conservancy to bring The Bay Park to fruition at least five years sooner than expected and saves an estimated $20-30 million.


The Bay Receives Unanimous Approval of Phase 2

In a 5-0 vote on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 the Bay Park Improvement Board (BPIB) unanimously approved a $48 million capital improvement project to develop Phase 2 of The Bay. Later, at a City Commission meeting on Monday, October 3, 2022, City Commission approved funding to develop Phase 2 of The Bay.


The Bay Park Opens to 50,000 During Grand Opening Celebration

Phase 1 of The Bay officially opens to over 50,000 park guests during the 10 Days at The Bay Grand Opening. The first phase, which had been in construction since 2019, includes more than 14 acres of revitalized greenspace, a larger-than-life Ibis playground, Common Ground lawns, the Mangrove Bayou Walkway, an outdoor Reading Room, an ADA-accessible paddle launch, restored and preserved mangroves and shorelines, with spectacular sunset views.

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