Sarasota is a town on the cusp of becoming a city. And there’s a building boom going on downtown — mostly hotels and high-end condominiums. One, ironically named “The Vue,” blocks some of the view of Sarasota Bay as it crowds in just a few feet from two of the busiest streets in town in a very pedestrian-unfriendly way.
This surge of new construction dwarfs the older “historic” parts of downtown. Of course, change and growth can add vitality and diversity to a community, helping it become a city. On the other hand, too much of one thing can put a community out of balance and sap its strength.
Many of these new buildings will be filled with wealthy older residents looking for a low-key but upscale lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that — unless, of course, they put up a metaphorical wall around downtown to keep out others who are different. In that case, this new growth will suffocate rather than vitalize, and the town will become not a city, but a slightly more dense area of the sprawl that is so much of Florida.
Palm Avenue is one of the more attractive streets in downtown Sarasota. It is lined with art galleries, boutiques and restaurants, palm trees (many of which will soon be removed), historic buildings (some of which will be removed to make way for another high rise for the affluent), and even a large verdant grassy patch (soon to be dug up and covered over with a hotel).
Even after these changes, Palm Avenue will still be attractive — and probably even more comfortable for some. But it will also be different, and so will the rest of the city. With every change, the benefits of the change are trumpeted — and the losses and questions papered over with glossy brochures. These “Perspectives on Palm Avenue” ask whether we are building the kind of city we want.
We no longer trust beauty as a serious means of investigation. But it can be ... In fact, beauty can be incendiary; it can be subversive; it can make us cringe.
-- David Maisel, Photographer
"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it." -- Anais Nin
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders of the universe, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.” -- Rachel Carson