Financing option surfaces for Sarasota's multi-million bayfront project
SARASOTA — Rising property values for homes and businesses near the city’s planned bayfront redesign could help pay for the project, which is estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take up to two decades to build.
Engineers designing The Bay project — proposed to transform 53 acres of largely vacant city-owned land on Sarasota’s waterfront into an oasis with ample open space, clear views of the horizon, restaurants and potentially a new performing arts center — predict the facelift will drive up area property tax revenue, in turn creating a new funding mechanism for the pricey project.
Bill Waddill, managing director of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, proposes using tax-increment financing, or TIF, from the increased revenue as one way to pay for the project. TIF allows a city to divert the increased property taxes generated by a project to repay the cost of building it.
“Now that we’ve gone from three very different concept plans, got community input and are now synthesizing to one draft concept plan, the time is right to start thinking about conceptual costs and how do we pay for this project over 10 to 15 years,” Waddill said, adding an independent consulting firm is identifying potentially dozens of funding sources to pay for the project — TIF being one.