Bay Conservancy Ready For The Hard Part

Todays News


After weeks of extensions in negotiations, an agreement is now in place allowing The Bay Conservancy to move forward. Managing Director Bill Waddill says the newly formed organization will soon look to hire a construction management company and begin planning the ambitious redevelopment of Sarasota’s Bayfront.

“We are beginning to think about the evolution in our outreach,” Waddill says. The city has now approved a master plan and, just this week, approved details regarding the conservancy’s relationship to the city.

Now Waddill’s focus shifts toward building Phase 1, which will take place near Boulevard of The Arts. In about three years, the conservancy will look at getting day-to-day operations running at the site.

As for the city, Commissioner Hagen Brody feels satisfied with the partnership and wants the conservancy largely driving the future.

“It’s time we allow them to execute on their dream and get out of the way,” Brody says. “This was never driven by the city. This is a group of highly capable community activists and leaders that came up with this.”

As an arrangement came together, many skeptics have expressed concerns promises of community assets won’t materialize. But Brody says the professionals at The Bay make him more optimistic, not less.

“To me, the chance of this plan being realized is much higher than if it was sitting on one of the back shelves of the Parks and Recreation Department of the city,” Brody says. “Here, folks have taken on huge undertakings.” 

A.G. Lafley, former chairman and CEO for Proctor & Gamble, serves as CEO of the conservancy. Waddill worked on park redevelopments over a career at Kimley-Horn. And Veronica Brady, former senior vice president for Philanthropy at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, just came on as the conservancy’s director of Advancement.

As far as fears the conservancy won’t generate enough outside dollars, Waddill hopes Brady’s arrival eases those fears. “The first phase is about $50 million in hard costs or so, of which half or two-thirds will come from private donations and philanthropy,” he says. “She’s focused on helping us raise that money.”

The group has ambitious goals, but the expertise to meet them, he says.

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