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Firm picked for ‘The Bay’ plan

Selected to redevelop city’s bayfront into an arts and cultural district

By Zach Murdock

SARASOTA — Boston-area planning firm Sasaki has been selected to lead redevelopment of city-owned land on the Sarasota bayfront into an arts and cultural district to become “The Bay.”

Sasaki was selected from four finalists after interviews last week with the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, the nonprofit board of local business leaders spearheading the project alongside the city.

“Our collective judgment is that Sasaki would be the best fit for Sarasota’s specific bayfront development opportunity, and the best planning partner for the SBPO, the city and the community,” said A.G. Lafley, who leads the planning organization’s board and is the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble. “Sasaki has successfully designed, planned and executed waterfront and civic public space developments around the world. They have worked closely, cooperatively and successfully with arts and cultural institutions going through similar transformations of the same scale. Finally, the Sasaki team’s enthusiasm and passion clearly connected with the community and the board and created palpable energy at the interview sessions.”

Sasaki has worked on public projects from the Chicago Riverwalk to the Cincinnati John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park, both of which the group highlighted during its three-hour presentation last week. The interactive interview included an exercise

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that highlighted several dozen participants’ interest in environmental and cultural development on the site. The multidisciplinary firm beat out three groups from New York City and Atlanta during the interview stage.

Sasaki leaders emphasized the site can and should focus on vehicle and pedestrian access across U.S. 41 from downtown and environmental preservation of the waterfront.

The firm already works with the SBPO’s consultant and will work with the board on details of a final contract before the end of the year, according to a news release.

A completed master plan for the site is expected to be presented to the City Commission late next year.

Last week the SBPO also announced it is seeking a managing director as a staff member for the nonprofit to help oversee the project, according to an announcement. The managing director will help with the planning phase and oversee implementation of the master plan through to construction.

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