Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Big Steps Ahead for Bayfront | 9-Member Planning Organization, Manager and Firm Should Be in Place by January

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Big Steps Ahead for Bayfront | 9-Member Planning Organization, Manager and Firm Should Be in Place by January

Article excerpt

BAYFRONT 20:20

SARASOTA -- The Bayfront 20:20 initiative will take two big leaps forward in the next six months.

First, the group will found a new nonprofit planning organization by September, said Michael Klauber, the initiative's volunteer chairman.

That planned nine-member board will include a city representative and representatives of area arts and cultural groups to oversee the detailed process of master planning the ambitious project to reimagine about 42 acres of city-owned land around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall as a premier district for the arts and public green space.

The new organization will also work with a professional project manager and planning firm to develop those specific plans, which Klauber hopes the board is able to hire around the New Year, he told city leaders on Monday afternoon.

"The goal is to have both in place by early 2017," Klauber said. "You take all of that information that we collected from all the organizations and all the data we have on the property, they go into a big bowl, they get mixed up, and this planning organization's responsibility is going to be to sort that out based on input from the community."

The unprecedented "once-in-a-generation" planning process is expected to take about 18 to 24 months to complete, said Jon Thaxton, an early leader of the initiative and an executive for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

The planning organization and the firm it hires will have two specific tasks as it develops the formal master plan: Detail financing options for the project -- whose total cost hasn't even been contemplated yet -- and recommend a structure to operate and manage the area once it's built, Klauber said. This planning and designing phase has an anticipated budget of up to about $2.5 million and will operate per open-government

laws, Thaxton added.

"It is our anticipation that we will raise the $2 million from the private sector; we're not asking for any funding from the governmental entities," Thaxton said. …

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