The Sarasota African American Coalition (SAAC), a nonprofit that formed in 2018 to preserve, celebrate and share the heritage of African Americans in Sarasota, will present updated plans for its cultural center and museum at the city commission meeting on Monday, August 2.
The coalition will request the facility is on 1.3 acres of land in Newtown, on the corner of Orange Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The plans are outlined in the Newtown Community Redevelopment Area Master Plan and have been approved by Newtown Community Redevelopment Agency.
The plans include relocating the historic Leonard Reid House, currently located at Cohen Way and Seventh Street in the Rosemary District, to the museum site. The SAAC desires to occupy the Reid House when the city moves it, but are awaiting a signed lease agreement with the city and commission approval. The house was most recently operating as Canned Ham Vintage.
The goal for the center is to give all Newtown and Sarasota residents space to partake in African American culture. Music lessons, cooking classes, performances, student mentoring and community events will be hosted there. The facility will also become an asset for area schools, including nearby Ringling College of Art & Design and Booker High School.
"[A facility like this] adds texture, vibrancy and richness to a community," Oldham wrote last year. "It is now time to take another giant, groundbreaking leap forward to construct a center."
For more information on the facility, visit the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library, or visit SAAC's website.