Patterson Helps Bayfront Effort



The Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 effort got a $300,000 boost from The Patterson Foundation on Wednesday. Foundation officials hope the money will encourage more contributions to the effort to create a cultural district and community asset on property now dominated by parking spaces. Over the last three years, volunteers have worked tirelessly to come together around the first phase of this, the vision and guiding principles,” says Debra Jacobs, CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “Now our interest is in moving this forward.”

The move came days after a recent update from Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 leaders to the Sarasota City Commission. The citizen-led effort wants to draft a master plan for 42 acres of publicly-owned land that now houses the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and other cultural institutions in need of an upgrade. Thus far, events over the course of three years have drawn out support for a “passive public green space” and a “highly engaging family venue.” Along the way, organizations like the Van Wezel Foundation and Sarasota Orchestra have voiced a need for a new venue on the bayfront.

Now, efforts are moving toward the creation of an official Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, which would be an independent sector entity that include a city designee and the hiring of a planning firm and professional project manager. Bayfront 20:20 officials say they will need some $2.5 million in private funding to achieve everything. 

 Michael Klauber, volunteer chairman for Bayfront 20:20, says maintaining the organization as a separate entity instead of an advisory board to City Hall will help the organization. “As we heard from multiple city commissioners, nobody is going to give money to the city for a project like this,” he says. But the organization will operate in the Sunshine and maintain a public process.

The Patterson Foundation’s recent donation includes $100,000 to help with formation of the SBPO, the promise of another $100,000 when community donations reach $1 million, and another $100,000 promise when donations hit $2.4 million, enough to immediately allow the organization to meet its goal.

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