SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The future home of the Sarasota Orchestra is now looking more certain, and lovers of the arts will soon have a new one-stop destination for grand music performances. Leaders of the organization announced the purchase of new land for its proposed music center.
The 32-acre parcel of land is located at 5701 Fruitville Road, right near Interstate 75. It had a $14 million price tag.
Right now, the organization is currently located next to the Van Wezel Hall on Tamiami Trail in downtown Sarasota and spreads its season across six venues. The organization's leader spearheading the process said this development is music to the ears of many in Sarasota.
"This really is a milestone moment for the Sarasota Orchestra. An ideal location for us to realize a new regional home," Joe McKenna, CEO of the Sarasota Orchestra Music Center, said. "There is great excitement amongst our musicians, staff board, and patrons."
"We currently use six different venues to knit together the entire orchestra season and so the notion of having a special purpose-built home, a concert hall that is a purpose-built home for our orchestra and our performances is really exciting for the future," McKenna explained.
The music center will feature one of only four concert halls in Florida and the first on the Gulf Coast. The 1,800-seat concert hall would be built for acoustic music and come with complementary music center facilities including a 700-seat flexible-use performance space and several rehearsal and mini-performance halls. The center would also serve as a resource to nearly 30 local music-related organizations.
"We imagine on the 32-acre lot, about 12 acres will be reserved for natural settings and fountains so it really has the sense of place," McKenna said.
This major milestone land purchase comes just one year after the organization identified a location. The organization first initiated its plans to expand the region's existing arts and cultural infrastructure in 2014.
McKenna said due to population growth and interest in arts in the area, the available local venues are often at capacity sooner than expected and unable to accommodate the demand for premium musical experiences and education.
"Sarasota And Manatee regions have grown incredibly over the last several years. Everyone needs performance space, rehearsal space, so this regional music center will be home for the orchestra and support the other music activities in our community," he said.
They would also include a vision to support and expand an extensive education program with the center's eight-level youth orchestra.
"Over the ensuing decades, the next hundred years, to think about the number of audiences and youngsters, that will be impacted from the education programs to our concert in Sarasota music festival, will leave a lasting mark on a community," McKenna added.
The construction, facility development and events are expected to also help boost the local economy.
"The jobs that are created are for not only our musicians, but for staff and facility support, and all the things necessary to create incredible experiences," McKenna said.
Leaders of the Sarasota Orchestra said the project's timeline for completion including the design stage, fundraising and construction could take at least five years.