Newtown Sarasota gets facelift

  • 2

SARASOTA, FL--- New landscaping, new store fronts, and new business, its all part of the City of Sarasota's effort to revitalize the Newtown area.

"We are seeing and drawing the attention of others to this area," said Vice Mayor Willie Shaw.

The city invested more than $60 million to fund improvement projects in the Newtown community.  They include a storefront renovation program, several apartment projects and street landscaping along the MLK corridor.  Something Shaw says was needed.

"You feel better when you look better and this looks good, why should any part of Sarasota look less than any other part," added Shaw.

Rowena Elliott who works at the Newtown Redevelopment Center says the changes go beyond the look of the community.  She says the bigger focus of the revitalization is attracting business.

"We have a lot of new business coming to Newtown and those are projects that were working on to assist with giving them tax breaks wether its on their lights or getting information," added Rowena.

One of those businesses is Janie's Garden Market, it moved into a recently constructed mixed-use building, the former site of a housing project.

"It was a good opportunity, since they were redoing the area.  They put up the building so we decided to put a shop up in here and bring in grocery's food and meats and everything," said Wendy Madeksho the manager at Janie's Garden Market.

And, officials say getting more businesses like Janie's Market is the key to Newtown's economic turnaround.

"The idea is to use the 5 alphabets A- through E, an Attitude change will bring about a Behavioral change, which will bring about a Cultural change which will bring about Decisions that will determine our density, that will bring about an Economic change for everyone in the community", added Shaw.

Still, there are several other revitalization projects in the pipeline and Shaw says they hope is to have them complete by Newtown's 100 year anniversary, which is next 2014.