Architects and project managers for the $28 million Players Centre for Performing Arts talked recently about the project, which will be a crown jewel in Lakewood Ranch’s Waterside community.
Waterside is being developed on 1,425 acres of a 5,940-acre site around a series of seven lakes south of University Parkway.
Developer Schroder-Manatee Ranch broke ground on Waterside in April 2016, and a month later Players artistic director Jeffery Kin announced the company would be moving from Sarasota to Waterside.
Work has been underway on plans for the performing arts center for four months, according to lead designer Tom Gallagher and project manager Noah Steffes, both of Westlake Reed Lesosky, part of thr DLR Group, and Dan Laggan of SchenkelShultz Architecture.
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Those plans include a 70,000-square-foot multi-use venue, a 480-seat main stage auditorium, a 125-seat black box theatre, a 100-seat cabaret, and an outdoor events plaza, arrayed around a two-story lobby.
“The Players have been around for 88 years. They have a long history. We want to take that history and imagine how the future can build on it,” Gallagher said.
The Players have been around for 88 years. They have a long history. We want to take that history and imagine how the future can build on it.
Tom Gallagher, lead designer
All of the facilities – the auditorium, the black box theater and the cabaret – can be closed or opened to the rest of the performing arts center through large retractable doors. In addition, the cabaret and black box theater can be opened to the outdoor events plaza to allow spectators outside to watch performances.
“The challenge has been optimizing flexibility and the use of those three spaces,” Gallagher said, adding “the only limitation should be the imagination.”
Two terraces are planned to provide a view of the outdoor events plaza and activity within the performing arts center.
One of the attractions of the planned center is that events and the facility configuration will always be changing.
The performing arts center is being designed not only to be an anchor, but also an attraction for the greater Bradenton-Sarasota communities.
Waterside is designed to include 12 neighborhoods with 5,144 homes and 390,000-square-feet of commercial and office space served not only by a traditional network of new roads, but by quiet, electric boats.
Construction of the performing arts center is projected to start in the beginning of 2018 and be completed by the end of 2019, Laggan said.
Home sales in Waterside are expected to begin this year. Construction of the village center, located on the largest of the Waterside lakes, is to begin in January 2018.
The Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District is financing the four laning and extension of Deer Drive, Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road through a $79.5 million bond issue.
Sarasota County is planning an Interstate 75 overpass that would provide a new east-west connector from Waterside to the vicinity of Benderson Road and Cattemen Road.