Update: November 4 Stakeholder Meeting

At our last stakeholder meeting, we opened by officially welcoming our 43rd stakeholder to the group – the Central Cocoanut Neighborhood Association. It is hard to believe, but this meeting also marked the second anniversary of the beginning of our quest to create a community-driven vision for the future of our beautiful bayfront. You are all to be congratulated on what we have accomplished in this short time. It has been said that there has never been such a broad-based coalition in Sarasota’s history.The community came together, and through enormous input, we created a set of implementation principles together that will serve as a guidepost for the redevelopment of the bayfront for years to come. The City Commission adopted these principles earlier this year.

As you know, the City of Sarasota staff did an outstanding job of preparing a technical report on the 42-acre city site. Since their presentation to us in September, there have been a couple of questions for clarification on the view corridor and building massing along with the impacts of the new FEMA flood maps. David Smith and Ryn Chapdelain from the City joined us to clarify these points. Click here to read their report.

Up next, Candace Damon and Alex Stokes of HR&A Advisors gave us an update on the stakeholder focus groups we held a few weeks ago to explore how to get to the next phase. We had 24 stakeholders at four separate meetings. We learned a lot and received tremendous input!

We continue to have stakeholders ask about what we see down the road. Volunteer chairthrew out a major challenge to the group to help us focus on the next steps: By December 2017, we will have a shovel in the ground celebrating the start of a bayfront redevelopment plan.

To reach this ambitious goal, HR&A Advisors had conversations with many of you and looked at case studies throughout the country to suggest the steps we need to take to reach that goal. 

You can find their full report here. Summarized, Candace Damon suggested that our effort should b
e advanced on four levels including: site planning, facility planning for arts groups, outreach and fundraising.

Damon noted that the initial site planning will act as the foundation for all that we do – the bayfront is public land, and it will always be public land and will be held in trust for a public benefit.

She suggested that the facility planning should occur parallel to the site planning. Both will require outreach and fundraising, collaboration and transparency.

Things to consider:

  • How will we handle parking? Will it be offsite or structured onsite?
  • What can we do today that will result in something that people will look back on after 25 or 50 years and say that we made smart choices?
  • How can we agree on the specifics of implementing the design team quickly and efficiently?
  • How do we create a comfort level for philanthropists to come forward?
  • How will the former Quay property fit in to the site plan? Fortunately, we had a representative from the new owner at our meeting.
  • And finally, where do we go from here?

This is City-owned land and the City will ultimately have the final say in how this public private partnership is formed. We feel that whatever happens moving forward, it is crucial that our stakeholder group stays intact and continues as the advocate for this movement. We’re here to support and help our City go through this process. We’ve helped the community present a consistent voice, and we’d like to continue to support that voice and recommend a structure to city officials.

With so many details left to come to consensus about before we make recommendations to the city commission, Sarasota Chamber president Steve Queior recommended a stakeholder workshop.

 Finally, Michael gave the group a brief update on the needs assessment being compiled by the Sarasota Orchestra and the one completed recently by the Van Wezel. Once the Orchestra’s findings are complete, both organizations will collaborate on a joint presentation to the group. Marlon Brown, deputy city manager, noted to the group that the commission would be very interested in these results from their primary tenants currently on the site. Joe McKenna from the Sarasota Orchestra noted, “Not everyone will get what they want through this process, but if we work together as a community, we will all win.”

In closing, Michael reminded the group that this is our legacy. “We have a very unique opportunity to work together as a community to create something that our children and grandchildren will look back on decades from now and appreciate,” he said. “We as a community are going to do something that has never been done before and that will take a lot of collaboration. So far this has been a fantastic process for the community. We’ve had healthy conversations among the arts groups, and we’ve had a really strong process rooted in our six guiding principles created by the community. The combination of that plus the ongoing work of our arts groups is a lot different than it was 10 years ago,” he said.

We’d like to thank CCNA for their contribution to Bayfront 20:20, and we are working on another meeting in January along with time on the City Commission agenda this winter. See you in 2016!