SARASOTA (WWSB) - 13 acres owned by the city of Sarasota on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way near US 301 is the sight of a former illegal toxic dumping ground. There’s optimism from many Newtown residents that this land can be transformed into a mixed-use development.
“It’s going to help bring in a tax base for Newtown, it will also bring in jobs and training and housing, because right now there is no affordable housing,” said Valeria Buchand, President of Newtown Nation.
Before that happens there are some major challenges. A firm working with the city on this project found the soil contains solid waste beneath it, some as deep as 12 feet. Pastor Alphonso Davis, CEO of New Direction Community Development Corporation isn’t letting that stop them from continuing the effort to develop the property. He helped spearhead getting the Urban America development group on board. They’re a group that helps revitalize urban areas all across America.
“We are looking for help in our community and change for the community that would bring a different type of flavor to our community,” said Davis.
Earlier this week the city commission agreed to extend a due diligence period on the property for another six months to decide if they can move ahead with plans to develop the Marian Anderson Place property. The city says it would cost anywhere from 7 to 8 million dollars to clean up the property and remove debris.
Urban America’s proposal includes light industrial and vocational training space, office and retail space, a grocery store and walking trails.
“We want to bring it back alive so that people will understand that we are still prosperous people," said Davis. "The community of Newtown used to flow with nothing but business, economic development and entrepreneurs.”