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The Bay unveils design concepts for Sarasota waterfront project

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The Bay unveils design concepts for Sarasota waterfront project

The Bay project submitted its site plan this week, giving Sarasota its first detailed look at the first phase of the project

 The Bay Sarasota has filed plans with the city for the nine-acre strip of land that borders Boulevard of the Arts, giving residents their first detailed look at what the southernmost end of the proposed 53-acre property will look like.

The site plan, filed this week, includes an open lawn, a spiral boardwalk over the water, a food and beverage pavilion and a mangrove bayou.

Also included in the site plan are initial design concepts for core structures in the first phase of the project, including the food and beverage pavilion, boardwalk and lawn structures, and reading room, which will serve as a shaded gathering space for more intimate views of the bayou and mangroves.

When it comes to visualizing these buildings, think shade, sweeping shapes and geometry — think of the Chicago architect Walter Netsch. Netsch built the structure in 1979 that originally served as the Selby Library and became the G.WIZ museum in 2000. The museum was demolished in May to make way for The Bay project.

Design concepts for the food and beverage pavilion call for three components consisting of a restroom, a concession building and a 5,000-square-foot shade canopy structure. The restroom and concession buildings will have stone cladding that accentuates the site’s natural geology. The buildings will also feature an exposed architectural concrete finish at the entry door areas.

The concessions building will consist of a food and beverage prep kitchen and sales counter. The cooking equipment appears limited to devices that do not require a commercial exhaust hood or grease trap system. From inside the concession area, there will be a window facing south toward a shade pavilion.

The shade pavilion will provide a public gathering space at the heart of the Bay Park. The structure will consist of gently sweeping steel arc structural beams that support a metal shade trellis and a translucent roof membrane. The translucent roof membrane is intended to be constructed using a clear ceramic similar to a glass roof. Filtered sunlight would pass through the translucent membrane, which will cast a grid of shadow patterns on the ground and stone buildings.

The reading room, next to the existing bulkhead site wall, will be approximately 900 square feet and will consist of a deck and shade structure elevated above a sliver of the mangroves and bayou. This, designers hope, will provide a shaded gathering space with views of the bayou and mangroves, as well as the bay.

Much like the reading room of a library, this structure is designed to encourage “intimate gatherings and private reflection.”

Given the reading room’s proximity to the existing Selby library bulkhead, the design team has aimed to reinforce Netsch’s legacy.

The existing bulkhead will be left and used to define the grid that supports the structure. From that square, another set of squares is rotated within, and tiled along the deck platform. Stone columns will be aligned with the vertices of the grid on the eastern edge, and a sweeping steel tube structure will spiral overhead and connect to the corresponding vertices on the opposite side.

The boardwalk shade structures will be similar to the food and beverage pavilion canopy, with a decorative metal fractal pattern inspired by Netsch.

The park itself will be broken up into three main themes: nature-based and outdoor-enhanced education; fitness, health and recreation; and arts and culture.

Helping that transition is cutting the current number of 1,4000 parking spaces in half — something that will gradually occur over the next decade during various phases of the project. Included in the application is specific information and parking plans for The Bay site.

The organization estimates that, once the bayfront site is built out, the park will need approximately 300 to 500 parking spaces, with additional capacity needed for the future Sarasota Performing Arts Center.

In the meantime, the application says that more than 360 parking spaces will be available within a three-minute walk from the first phase of the park, including 14 spaces in a dedicated dropoff lot near Boulevard of the Arts and Van Wezel Way.

The site plan application seeks a series of waivers to the existing zoning for the property, including requests to allow buildings taller than two stories and light fixtures taller than 15 feet.

The site plan also asks for the placement of some bollards and lighting structures within 30 feet of the high-water line and variances allowing for the construction of a circular “sunset boardwalk.” The Bay is also asking for the city’s approval of a conditional-use application that would allow for commercial activity on the project site.

Over the next month, city staff will review the application before it is sent to the development review committee. Public hearings before the planning board and then the city commission for final consideration are expected sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

NOTE: This article was originally published by Herald-Tribune on December 19, 2019.

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