Three Major Projects will change Sarasota Dramatically

There are three game-changing projects in Sarasota in the makes; three ambitious projects that will change Sarasota in the near future. 

Mote Marine Laboratory – what a Bold Plan

MoteMarine Laboratory, which is an independent, not-for-profit, marine research organization, will build a new aquarium on a 12-acre lot at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The existing facility on City Island, located in the Sarasota Bay, will solely be used as a research center. That “International Marine Science, Technology and Innovation Park” on City Island will attract marine scientists from all over the world, although, it has already earned a global reputation.   $28million in private donations will jump-start the research center, while Mote’s SEA (“Science Education Aquarium”) at Nathan Benderson Park is projected to cost a whopping $130 million.   The 110,00 square foot, futuristic-looking facility next to I-75 will include one million gallons in aquariums. Visitors can watch hundreds of different species of sea creatures in their natural environment. Larger animals, like manatees, sharks, sea turtles, and otters will also be part of the exhibition.   STEM education facilities (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), meeting and event spaces, and nature trails will also be available at SEA. 

Mote’s Education, Aquarium and Outreach Division offers already public programs for all ages, internships, summer camps, school visits, field trips, on-demand learning experiences, an annual Special Lecture Series featuring Mote scientists and other marine experts.

A digital-learning program called SeaTrek.TV is designed to reach out to “future or hobby marine scientists” who cannot participate at local events. Mote Marine is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits qualified facilities based on a rigorous application and inspection process focusing on animal care, conservation, and science, facilities and more.

Mote Marine has even more campuses in eastern Sarasota County, BocaGrande, and the Florida Keys. Mote also maintains additional aquarium tanks at other Southwest Florida locations, like the Sarasota-Bradenton-International Airport.  

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – a Face-Lift

The mangers of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens are “thinking big.” $72 million will be spent over the next ten years to remodel the 15 acres bayfront property in Sarasota. Selby has already raised $21.8 million. They need about  $20million more for the first phase.  What is on the drawing board? A new brick-paved entrance to the park, a five-story parking garage for 450 cars, a new welcome center, and a new administration building. After completion, thick greenery will cover the parking garage. Michael’s On East will operate a rooftop restaurant with beautiful views of the bay and the city, which will be a part of that building.    The project is also designed as a “net positive energy” project, which means that it will produce more energy than it consumes.   The Bay-a Free Park for Everyone The park will become a gathering space for the residents of Sarasota, and it will also include a new performing arts hall, a promenade, an amphitheater, three pedestrian bridges across the busy U.S 41, and several children’s playgrounds embedded in a beautiful park setting.   Now it is out in the open – no tax-generating condominiums, hotels, or stores will ruin the view. The 53-acre city-owned property along Sarasota Bay will be a free park to everyone once completed. A big slice of waterfront property is being preserved for community use and will transform the Van Wezel parking lot into a blue-green oasis. It will take about 20 years until the dream comes true. However, the city has to swallow a shocking $200 million price tag, and, unfortunately, that amount of money is not conveniently sitting somewhere in a drawer.   

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