Request for Qualifications issued in effort to secure a design team for master planning of the City of Sarasota’s 42 acres on the bayfront

Charrettes with the finalists to be held in October

A graphic in the Request for Proposals shows the 42 bayfront acres and adjacent properties. Image from the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO) has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to solicit a design team that will lead the creation of a comprehensive master plan for the 42 acres the City of Sarasota owns “at the heart of Sarasota’s Bayfront,” the SBPO announced this week.

The RFQ initiative is inviting “the best-in-class design teams to submit their qualifications,” a news release notes.

“The SBPO is pleased to announce this important milestone in the transformation of our Bayfront,” says AG Lafley, chair of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization board, in the release. “The selected design team will engage the community in an approximately nine-month planning process to create a visionary, sustainable and implementable Bayfront revitalization strategy,” he adds in the release.

Design teams will have eight weeks to prepare their RFQ responses for consideration, the release points out. A short list of finalists will be announced by mid-September, and then those teams will come to Sarasota for interviews in October, the release continues. The work sessions — charrettes — with the SBPO will be open to the public, the release notes. During the interviews, representatives of each short-listed team will have the opportunity to discuss their group’s qualifications and master planning approach, the release says. A finalist will be announced in November, “with the master planning process commencing shortly thereafter,” the release adds.

The potential for the city-owned property has been the focus of discussions over the past four years, led by Bayfront 20:20. Image from the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization

A fundraising committee has secured about “$2 million of private, non-governmental funds” to pay for the SBPO’s operations and “the work necessary to support its larger mission,” the Request for Qualifications notes. “Up to $850,000 of this amount has been set aside for all [emphasis in the document] costs associated with the development of this master plan, including consultant and subconsultant fees and allowances, travel expenses, and other reimbursables,” the RFQ points out.

“Over the past four years,” the RFQ explains, the Bayfront 20:20 organization “has held 220 meetings, ranging from six major community forums to informal discussions in breweries, conference rooms, recreation centers and other venues. This outreach distilled community and stakeholder input and arrived at principles for implementation of the vision [for the 42 acres].”

The RFQ also makes it clear that the master plan must ensure “open, public access to the Bayfront” and that it must be “financially feasible, operationally viable and environmentally sustainable.”

City Manager Tom Barwin represents the city on the SBPO board, making certain the City Commission remains fully involved in the planning process and that city staff members can assist with the planning process, as needed, he has pointed out in City Commission sessions.

The SBPO has engaged HR&A Advisors, an economic development and public policy consulting firm, to facilitate the design team selection process, the release notes.

The RFQ is available for download at Proposals are due by 5 p.m. Sept. 1, the release adds.