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Laying the groundwork to transform a 53-acre, city-owned site into a more inclusive and welcoming community waterfront destination

The Sarasota Bayfront Master Plan

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization
Sarasota, FL
53 acres
Agency Landscape + Planning
Civil Engineering
Landscape Architecture
Additional Services
Community Engagement
Planning and Urban Design
Completed 2018
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Florida Chapter, 2023 Design Awards, Frederic B. Stresau Award in Open Space Category
Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA), Merit Award in General Design category
Boston Society of Landscape Architects, Merit Award – Analysis & Planning

The Sarasota Bayfront Master Plan lays the groundwork to transform a 53-acre, city-owned site on the stunning “Cultural Coast” of Florida into a more inclusive and welcoming community waterfront destination. The project delivers a long-term master plan to guide future improvements to the valuable site—establishing a cultural and economic legacy for the region while ensuring open, public access to the Bayfront.

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, a nine-person citizen board, hired Sasaki in 2017 to lead this Master Planning effort. Since then, Sasaki and Agency Landscape + Planning have led the process of giving shape to the community’s vision. The site occupies a prime location with sweeping waterfront views and is anchored by several beloved cultural institutions. However, until now, the site has not fully leveraged its inherent potential to serve as a treasured community asset, as it sits covered in surface parking lots that make it 65% percent impervious. The plan, once implemented, will enhance the cultural vitality of the site, provide expanded public open space, improve connectivity to other parts of the city, and offer an economically and environmentally sustainable long-term management strategy.

Through an intensive outreach process, which incorporated public meetings, social media, online town halls and surveys, Sasaki and the client team connected with over 50,000 community members. The input directly led to an innovative site plan, facility plan, and a phasing plan that reflects the desires of future and current users of the site. The plan’s design elements include a highly programmed recreational pier, a renewed historic district, a large adventure play area, enhanced waterfront access along the entire site, a living shoreline, a new performing arts center, restaurants and an iconic elevated boardwalk that connects the north and south sides of site.

The community-driven master plan was approved by the Sarasota City Commission in September, 2018. Sasaki, with design lead Agency Landscape + Planning, are beginning the design and implementation of Phase 1 of the plan. This first phase encompasses a 10-acre site and will include connectivity improvements at and over a busy freeway, a new pier on the bay, and a linear park to improve access to, along, and over the bay—a top priority for the community.

For more information contact Zachary Chrisco.

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