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Sarasota's Master Plan into the Future

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The 2020 Master Plan - Sarasota Downtown & Bayfront

The 2020 City of Sarasota Downtown Master Plan: is a record of a new way of thinking about and approaching urban planning and develop­ment, one that conceives of public action as an ongoing and evolving process, just as the growth of a city is ongoing and evolutionary.  

Click on this link for a complete PDF of the 2020 Master Plan.

Copies of the Downtown Master Plan and Code are available at the City's Planning Department in room 302A City Hall - it is very lengthy.

Major themes in the new plan are:

  • Connecting the Downtown to the Bayfront; A System of Walkable Streets
  • A Balanced Transportation System
  • Walk-to-Town Neighborhoods
  • Civic Improvements; and Strategic, Pragmatic Implementation

Connecting the Downtown to the Bayfront: This old idea is given the means to become reality in the new plan through a series of actions to eliminate the barrier of existing high-speed traffic on us· 41. The official designation of US 41 would move to Fruitville Road north of Downtown and to US 301 on the east. Existing US 41 between Gulf Stream Avenue and US 301 would be converted into a street designed for slower automobile traffic and somewhat lower traffic volumes.

Along this redesigned bayfront road intersections (labeled "sleeves· in the plan) would be built at Oak Street, Ringling Boulevard, Main Street and First Street to allow for easy and inviting pedestrian crossings. The sleeves are comprised of buildings, street scape and traffic control-all designed to provide for inviting pedestrian cross­ings. To provide more reasons to walk to the Bayfront the conceptual proposal provides for a community" gathering place," a public plaza,

A System of Walkable Streets: The Master Plan recognizes that attempting to make all streets inviting for pedestrians would only lead to all streets being mediocre at best. A careful system of "A" Streets with a pedestrian emphasis and "B" Streets with an automobile emphasis has been designed. "A" Streets include Main Street, Ringling Boulevard, Palm Avenue and parts of First Street.

Also included are Central Avenue, Osprey Avenue and East Avenue-all of which connect •walk-to-town" neighborhoods to the Downtown. The Code prescribes in considerable detail the qualities that" A" Street buildings and adjacent sidewalks must have to be inviting to pedes­trians.

A Balanced Transportation System: Pedestrians and bicyclists needs are balanced with those of automobiles in the new plan. This requires a design for slower, but efficient, car movement on "A" Streets. Four roundabouts are proposed - at exiting US 41 and Gulf Stream Avenue, atUS41 and Fruitville Road, at US 301 and Fruitville Road, and at Ringling Boulevard and Pineapple Avenue. Roundabouts have proven to be very successful at moving traffic and reducing accidents in other communities.

A relatively new roundabout in Clearwater, Florida handled 58,000 cars in a high peak day this past spring. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concludes that roundabouts are considerably safer than signalized intersections. The plan also includes a system for bicycles and a long-range program for structured parking.

Walk-to-Town Neighborhoods: This Master Plan provides detail for continued improvement of the Rosemary Neighborhood, the Gillespie Park Neighborhood, and the portion of Park East Neighbor­ hood west of Shade Avenue. Each neighborhood plan includes a neighborhood open space and compatible infill housing.

Pedestrian connections are provided to Downtown Proper via Central Avenue, Osprey Avenue and East Avenue. At the intersection of each of these special streets and Fruitville Road "sleeves" are proposed to ease the crossing of pedestrians. Sixth Street is designed to provide a pedestrian connection through all three neighborhoods to a new public space at the Bayfront.

Civic Improvements: A new City Hall in an expanded Federal Building at Ringling Boulevard and Orange Avenue is among the proposed civic improvements. Others include anew park west of US 301 at Ringling Boulevard, a redesigned Lemon Avenue Mall and civic structures for the "walk-to-town" neighborhoods. Each of these civic amenities is carefully located to play a prominent urban design role and to efficiently fulfill its function.

Strategic, Pragmatic Implementation: Many plans have failed (to varying degrees) in the past because of their lack of attention to implementation. This Master Plan provides a capital improvements plan, a list of public/private initiatives and recommendations for other administrative actions. Since most of the construction will be done by the private sector, anew zoning code will play acritical role in shaping Downtown.

Care will be taken to respect property rights while at the same time requiring building designs which meet critical public needs such as providing pedestrian friendly street frontages on "A" Streets. The list of capital improvements includes a wide variety of civic improvements funded by various existing governmental programs.

Public/private projects include a new grocery store to provide a mid­ Main Street anchor near Main Street and Osprey Avenue and the proposal of several private buildings on land currently owned by the City. Administrative actions include recommendations for the structure of the City's redevelopment program.

“The Bay” Park Project: is a long-term planning initiative aimed at reimagining the 53-acre Sarasota Bayfront in Sarasota. The project aims to transform the waterfront area into a vibrant public park and cultural destination, providing a space for people to enjoy and engage with the natural beauty of the area while also providing opportunities for education, recreation, and cultural activities.  The park portion of this project has been completed 3 years earlier than scheduled!

The master plan was developed through an extensive community engagement process, which involved input from local residents, business owners, and other stakeholders. The plan was created by a team of urban planners, architects, and landscape architects, and was approved by the City of Sarasota in 2017.

The plan includes several key components, including the creation of a new bayfront park with gardens, trails, and a boardwalk. It also includes the development of a new performing arts center, an aquarium, and a children's museum, as well as a variety of public spaces, retail and restaurant opportunities, and other amenities.

The goal of the Sarasota Bayfront Master Plan is to create a world-class destination that celebrates the unique natural and cultural heritage of Sarasota and enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. The project is expected to be implemented in phases over the next several years, with the first phase of development already underway.



Sarasota's Master Plan into the Future

All About | Awards

Sarasota's Master Plan into the Future

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