With 2016 upon us the word “new” aptly describes the beginning of the year, and the start of the yearly calendar, signifying birthdays and anniversaries that will be celebrated with family and friends.
It’s the beginning and also a starting over point for many people who think this could be the year things will really happen for them. This year also brings an election where we will vote in a new president. Yes this is an expectant, renewed time, and for many, this is really the happiest season of all, when anything is possible.
Florida residents are heading into 2016, having earned a title that we Floridians already knew to be. Florida really is the “Most Desirable Place to Live in,” according to a Harris Poll released in December. And Sarasota certainly has earned its fair share of accolades and is heading into the New Year with much to be excited about. With new hotels either opening or in construction and Internationally-notable sporting events coming to the area, along with improvements to the Downtown area, Sarasota is edging up its appeal factor for potential residents.
A large section of Main Street will receive a makeover as substantial changes are planned for the Main Street Plaza, including Hollywood 20. New storefronts, renovations to the movie theater, and a proposed high-rise are in the works for that area. Additional investors have shown interest in new hotel and mixed-use developments near the Main Street area. Local entrepreneurs spearheading the Main Street project have a vested interest in seeing renewed life be brought to that area of Downtown Sarasota and are happy others are coming on board to add further amenities to residents.
Ringling College of Art and Design is tackling major improvements on its campus, including renovations to the Sarasota Museum of Art, construction of a new arts center, a new sound stage and an $18 million library, being dubbed the “library of the future.” New buildings, classroom and faculty facilities, plus the purchase of additional property near the school prepares Ringling to continue its anticipated growth and high rankings among similar U.S. schools.
Several notable sporting events will take place in and around Sarasota 2016, promising to spotlight the growing number of venues in the area and also infusing the local economy with tourists’ dollars. Having successfully hosted a number of high profile events previously, Nathan Benderson Park was chosen to be the site of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team Trials. Sarasota will have the opportunity to show it not only has great venues, but also the infrastructure and ancillary services to accommodate the attendees the events will attract. The BMX Supercross World Cup Finals will take place in October, and with Sarasota BMX considered the longest continuously running track in the country, Sarasota’s long relationship with BMX racing makes it a perfect match. Major renovations to the motorcross park at the corner of Tuttle Avenue and 17th Street are underway, including 5 meter and 8 meter ramps, and lighting and electrical upgrades. Also in 2016, the U.S. Olympic Trials for the Pentathlon and The International World Cup Final will be held in Sarasota. The Pentathlon is an event featuring five sports, including running, swimming, shooting, equestrian and fencing. Housing the expected influx of visitors for the sporting and other area events are several hotels that will opening in Sarasota in 2016. The Embassy Suites Hotels, Westin Sarasota and several other upscale hotels and condominiums will be opening their doors for the anticipated growth that Sarasota is expected to experience.
Hold on folks, it’s going to be a busy year around town with a lot of construction and exciting events happening. Let’s hope the expectations and joy that the New Year bestows upon us lasts through the moments we might be tied up in traffic or rerouted from where we need to be. Remember to take in the wonderful sights and sounds of winter in Florida, which for many, is just a dream of where they long to live.
Photos: Sarasota-Downtown from Selby Garden courtesy of Roger W. on Flickr-commercial use allowed. Skyline from www.saraasotasculpturecenter.org.