Second Phase of The Bay Approved as Opening Nears

Todays News

Graphic courtesy The Bay Park Conservancy.

A $48-million second phase plan was approved for development of The Bay by leaders of the outside organization planning its future. Between 2023 and 2026, the Bay Park Conservancy will complete the circle plan for the new public park south of the 10th Street boat launch. Funding will be directed through use of a tax financing district created in 2020 to capture revenue from increased property values in the immediate area around The Bay.

Implementation of Phase 2 will include the dockside South Canal District, city-side Cultural District, sunset boardwalk and western shoreline of the project. It should provide a criticial piece to redevelopment.

The capital improvement plan for the project still must come before the Sarasota City Commission on Oct. 3 and the Sarasota County Commission on Oct. 11. The plans won Conservancy approval even before the official grand opening of The Bay. 

“As we approach the Grand Opening of The Bay, this milestone approval by the Bay Park Improvement Board enables The Bay Park Conservancy to accelerate the construction of the park and open more park — faster and for the benefit of the entire community,” said A.G. Lafley, CEO of the Conservancy.

While portions of the project are already accessible to the public, a day 10-day grand opening celebration for The Bay beginning on Oct. 14 will kick off the wider ability to enjoy the new park. Some 90 free events are already planned, including a concert by We The Kings on Oct. 15, a Taste of the Bay Food Festival starting Oct. 16 and a Boo! At the Bay movie night, showing Hocus Pocus, on Oct. 21.

“It will be our first real meaningful piece of the park that opens,” said Bill Waddill, executive director of the Conservancy. At that point, some 20-25% of the entire project will be open to the public, he said.

“During those 10 days, we're going to have sort of a sampling of anything and everything that our community might expect to see at The Bay Park and everything from music to food to arts, culture, games, recreation,” Waddill said. “Sort of anything and everything.”

The total project cost for the redevelopment of 53-acres of land on Sarasota’s Bayfront will eventually run between $300 and $400 million, including the cost of a new Performing Arts Center.

Graphic courtesy The Bay Park Conservancy.

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