New Sarasota Performance Hall Calls for Stilts with Parking Underneath

Van Wezel Foundation Sarasota Performing Arts Center

Sarasota City Commission also approved the basic elements to a new district that would help pay for The Bay project

Conceptual designs for the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center call for a three-story single structure on stilts that can accommodate approximately 200 parking spaces underneath and could help to protect the proposed 145,000-square foot bayfront facility from rising sea levels.

Meanwhile on Monday, after nearly a year of back-and-forth with Sarasota County, city officials think they finally have the right formula to help finance the $300 million redevelopment of the bayfront project, known as The Bay, where the proposed performing arts hall will be located.

Modeled after the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Sarasota’s performance hall will intertwine with the 53 acres of park space surrounding it. Think lots of shade, trees and an area that connects with a 10,000-square foot flexible performance space that could seat 400 with an additional education theater for 150 more. Additional community events could be connected by an open area facing an event lawn.

That space could be open every day and allow for numerous community events and connect the venue with the park.

The main concert hall, on the third floor, would seat 2,250 — exceeding the 1,741 seats at the Sarasota Performing Art’s current home at the Van Wezel.

The new concert hall will be built on the northwest side of the bayfront property, where parking for the Van Wezel is now. While construction continues, the Van Wezel will remain open.

To pay for the new concert hall, the Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation already has raised $11 million. The additional funding will come from a public and private partnership, as well as funds allocated from the creation of a tax increment financing, or TIF, district.

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