Skip to Main Content

Imagine The Possibilities

Biking along the Bay

Shopping by the Bay

Culture of the Bay

Dancing by the Bay

Fishing in the Bay

Lawn Bowling by the Bay

Kayaking on the Bay

Skating by the Bay

Swimming in the Bay

Sketching & Painting the Bay

Walking along the Bay

Yoga, Tai Chi & Pilates by the Bay

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

Born from a group of community stakeholders, the journey to The Bay is continuing to evolve.

1902
1925
1969
2007
2013
2015
2016
2017

1902

The town of Sarasota was incorporated. The bayfront served as a place of recreation for local Sarasotans, offering gulf access to the public. 

1925

John Nolen, a professional planner, was hired to develop a plan for the downtown of the city. He laid out the streets to follow the arch of the bay front with a grid beyond, that extended north to what is now Tenth Street and south to Mound. 

1969

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall opens. Jointly funded by a bequest from local residents Lewis and Eugenia van Wezel and monies from a city of Sarasota bond referendum, the 1,736 seat hall was designed by William Wesley Peters, a chief architect at Taliesin Associated Architects and Frank Lloyd Wright's son-in-law. The purple and lavender color scheme was suggested by Frank Lloyd Wright's widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright. 

2007

The Cooper Robertson Cultural Park master plan is developed. The plan focused on creating a mixed-use district with an emphasis on cultural uses. Two sites were identified for major cultural institutions, one facing Tamiami Trail, the other facing the new bayfront park. 

2013

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.”

2015

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.

2016

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.

2017

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.

Now the work begins. And we invite you to keep checking back as we imagine the possibilities of The Bay.

Vision & Guiding Principles

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. 

Aspiration:
Sarasota’s bayfront will be an iconic, public destination that welcomes the diversity of Sarasota, enhances our status as a cultural capital and serves as a venue for multi-generational, inter-neighborhood, broad-based enjoyment of our bayfront

Cultural Heritage:
The bayfront’s identity as a cultural, arts and educational destination will be strengthened, anchored by some of the region’s most important institutions and rooted in Sarasota’s diverse cultural legacy.

Bayfront/Natural Assets:
Welcoming, attractive, publicly accessible, safe, fun and family-friendly open space celebrating the bayfront’s natural heritage will be developed along the bayfront for future generations. Views of the Bay will be enhanced.

Activation:
Outdoor cultural programming, aquatic and onshore recreational programming, educational programming, urban amenities, plentiful shade, adequate lighting and alternatives to surface parking will support the active and passive usage of the bayfront throughout the day and evening and in all seasons.

Connectivity:
Greatly improved connectivity among the bayfront, adjacent neighborhoods and the wider region is necessary to achieve our aspirations. Improved connectivity will be accomplished via safe, convenient pedestrian, bicycle, and water transit connections to the north, south, east and across the Bay. Convenient automobile access to the site should be accommodated with the smallest practicable footprint.

Sustainability:

Ecological, economic and financial sustainability are fundamental to the long-term success of Sarasota’s bayfront and critical to the realization of our aspirations. Achieving a sustainable future for the bayfront will require continuous cooperation among the public, private and non-profit sectors.