Discussions percolate about bayfront development

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Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014 10:38 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- There's a strip of land, west of 41, from Fruitville to 10th Street that's suddenly getting a lot of attention.

"It's not too often you have 75 acres of waterfront land that can be a regional destination for an entire area," said President of Visit Sarasota County, Virginia Haley.

"This is one of the most significant pieces of property around, this is a 100 year decision we're making right now,' said Chairman of the Board of Visit Sarasota County Michael Klauber.

Visit Sarasota looks at all the cement and envisions progress.  But hold on says Commissioner Susan Chapman. She has her own questions:

"Are you going to build a parking garage that includes a view of the bay? Are you going to take away the auditorium, lawn bowling, garden club?" Chapman said.

Chapman says somebody put some blueprints under her door revealing major plans for this land--from a hotel to an aquarium.

"This private group has a $255 million dollar alternative plan for the city-owned bayfront," she said.

City Commissioners agreed tonight to hold discussions and work with Visit Sarasota County. When we asked Mayor Willie Shaw if this was a giant step or a baby step for the future of waterfront development, he had this to say:

"It's a giant step... by a baby," he said with a smile.

Commissioners agreed to meet again with leaders from Visit Sarasota County this fall.

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