Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Question on the Quay

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Question on the Quay

Article excerpt

Could site's potential be enhanced through new plans for public bayfront?

After 15 companies bid to purchase the former Sarasota Quay property, the owner's broker said: "We will make a deal on one of these."

Although a deal will be for substantially less than the asking price, let's assume -- for the sake of discussion -- that the owner gets a good deal.

Let's also hope that the transaction and subsequent development of the prominent property turn out to be good deals for the public.

If a sale occurs soon, as the broker's representative told Josh Salman of the Herald-Tribune last week, the new owners will have a golden opportunity to consider the public's interest in whatever is developed on the 15-acre site.

A community-based coalition, "Bayfront 20:20," is endeavoring to create a common vision for 42 acres of city-owned land, including the site of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and 33 acres of surrounding private property -- including the former Quay property.

Operating under the auspices of Visit Sarasota County -- the public tourism-promotion agency -- Bayfront 20:20 hopes to provide a process for obtaining community input about the principles that should guide development of the entire area.

Building consensus

The group has obtained initial buy-in for the exercise from, for example, the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Mote Marine Laboratory and other local organizations.

On July 21, Bayfront 20:20 briefed the Sarasota City Commission, which owns the 42 acres and has substantial say over the development of the additional 33 acres, on the progression of its efforts.

In short, presentations to the community continue and the group hopes to sign a contract with a national consultant this month. (The intent is that funds to pay the consultant, HR&A, will come from the private sector.)

The consultant's main task would be to design and help implement a process for engaging the public -- with the aim of building consensus around principles for better utilizing the city's land. …

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