Bayfront 20:20 - A New Vision for Downtown

The Mission to Create "The Bay Sarasota"

Downtown Sarasota is undergoing a major transformation!  Redesigning Sarasota's bayfront area has been a topic of conversation for many years.  The land currently occupied by the Van Wezel and Centennial Park is part of a large conversation about the direction of Sarasota.  

The vision of Bayfront 20:20, which is the name of the initiative and team of industry leaders who are taking on the massive task of re-envisioning and executing a new waterfront destination in Sarasota, is to 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. 

The team from Sasaki Design Firm, the firm selected to create the vision for Sarasota's bayfront, visited Sarasota this week to present the newest renderings of the future site, what they hope will be a big destination and gathering area for our community.  If you're not up to speed on this exciting project, check out our blog on it.  

What Sarasota Wants

 Original concept for  Bridge the Divide

Original concept for Bridge the Divide

After the feedback received from a public forum and surveying our community in April, a dynamic design proposal was "selected" out of three.  That's in quotes because while this was the highest-ranked proposed design, the firm based all their surveying on ASPECTS of each design, so they could incorporate individual items to suit our community's wants and needs.  The firm adjusted their newest renderings of Bridge the Divide, the selected "winning design," based on the feedback that our community cares about:

  • Public access to the waterfront
  • Connectivity with the rest of downtown across Tamiami Trail
  • Providing the community with a balance of diversified activities
  • Preserving the existing Van Wezel structure

The South End

The questions, concerns, and feedback of Sarasota residents mainly affected the northern section.  Consequently, the south end of The Bay is pretty much set, said the design firm.  The design includes some exciting features!

  • Destination play area
  • Kayak launch
  • Recreation pier
  • Pedestrian bridges across 41
  • Picturesque waterfront drive

The southern portion of The Bay will also offer parking under landscaping, opening up the view to more green space and hiding the unsightly cars, as well as offer builders "simplified phasing" -- current buildings will be able to stay in use as development continues to the north.

The North End: Up for Discussion

A key feature of the original Bridge the Divide concept was a performing arts structure that spanned both sides of a waterway.  In their redesigns, this is depicted in two different ways:

OPTION 1: THE BRIDGE

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  • Performing arts building bridges over the canal
  • Restaurants on south side of canal
  • Boat ramp on north side of canal
  • Event lawn
  • Small amphitheater near existing Van Wezel site

OPTION 2: CANAL DISTRICT

  • More waterfront dining than The Bridge
  • Walkable setting
  • Boat ramp moved to the north
  • Frame of performing arts building spans the canal, provides a scenic overlook & a pier
  • Large shaded amphitheater

Both feature a boat ramp, performing arts areas of various type (lawn space, amphitheater, and indoor halls), and parking under the landscape.

Your Input is Needed!

Again, Sasaki is offering Sarasotans the chance to chime in on what they want out of The Bay.  To offer your opinion, please take their survey here.  To find out more about The Bay, have a look at their website.