BRADENTON -- Officials representing a company that hopes to restore the former Manatee River Hotel told the Bradenton City Council on Wednesday it could expect 50,000 overnight guests per year, who would generate $2.5 million or more for local businesses.
Brian Long, director of development for The Widewaters Group Inc., said each overnight guest at what is nicknamed “the Pink Palace” could be expected to spend a minimum of $50 per night in downtown Bradenton.
“I can’t think of a better incentive for existing business,” said Long, whose company hopes to transform the iconic building into a Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel.
The project, which would cost $15 million or more to accomplish, would create 35 full and part-time hotel staff jobs and 100 construction jobs, he told the council.
Council members unanimously passed a resolution that designated the property at 309 10th St. W. a “brownfield area” for the purpose of environmental site rehabilitation and economic redevelopment, which the company hopes will translate into tax incentives. The .85-acre site needs cleanup of minor soil contamination, officials have said.
A second resolution the council also approved recommended Widewater Bradenton LLC or an affiliated company be approved as a qualified “brownfield business.”
City Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey said her mother had lived in the building at one point, and loved the views of downtown and the Manatee River.
Barnebey said she and her husband expressly travel to stay at historic hotels because of their ambience.
“We will go out of our way where we can experience a historic building,” she said.
The 1920s-era former hotel sports a Mediterranean Revival architectural style, and is considered among Bradenton’s largest and best-preserved historic structures, Long said.
Among its unique features are the lobby, which retains its original grand staircase, fixtures and registration desk; and an elegant formal dining room with a vaulted ceiling and Mexican tile floor.
Displaying a picture of the building as it looked in its prime, Long explained: “We would love to bring it back as close to this picture as we can.”
The upper floors were all gutted during a failed condo conversion by a previous owner, so Long’s company plans new hotel rooms there with all the modern amenities, he said.
A financial deal with the Downtown Development Authority still has not been concluded, since the two sides remain several million dollars apart, Long said after the meeting at City Hall. But talks continue, he said.
“It will be a linchpin of downtown,” said Cathy Slusser, appearing in support of the project on behalf of the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court Department of Historical Resources.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.