Three Major Projects will change Sarasota Dramatically

Post updated 1/5/2021

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

Mote Marine Laboratory – what a Bold Plan

MoteMarine Laboratory, 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 already offers 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 managers 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 will produce more energy than it consumes.  


Bay Park Sarasota

The Bay Sarasota- A Florida friendly landscaping Bay Park welcoming all 

The Bay Park in Sarasota is a Free Park for Everyone.  The Bay Park will become a gathering space for Sarasota residents, 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 is a conservatory project and a free park welcoming all. 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. The ambitious plan converts the property into a natural oasis, which includes the following features in Phase one:

Mangrove Bayou with a walkway and kayak launch, a hammock grove, and an outdoor reading room

A living shoreline with a unique circular sunset pedestrian boardwalk

A 1.5-acre lawn for fitness, yoga, health, and social activities.

It will take about 15 to 20 years until the dream comes true. However, the city has to swallow a shocking $300 to $400 million price tag with the help of philanthropists, community foundations, and individual friends of the Bay. If you want to get involved there are ways to give. An optimistic goal could open the entire park in about 10 years. However, the plan is to open up parts of the finished park to the public to enjoy. 

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