BRADENTON -- Residents will have a chance to watch every step of the Manatee River Hotel’s transformation into a Hampton Inn & Suites if City Planner Tim Polk has his way.
Polk asked the developer in charge of the so-called “Pink Palace” to consider creating an interactive website that provides continuous updates of the Bradenton landmark’s restoration over the next 18 months.
“It’s not something we’ve done in the past, but we can look into that,” said Brian Long, director of development for The Widewater Group, which struck a long-awaited deal with the city last month to renovate the 1926 building. “We run a fairly lean organization.”
Polk also suggested Widewater could pool resources with Realize Bradenton, the city’s cultural and arts promotional arm, to create the site. He made his suggestions Tuesday at a meeting of the Downtown Development Authority, during which the panel approved a development agreement with Widewater.
The agreement formalizes “terms and conditions” approved last month by the authority, points which have already received the city council’s support in resolution form.
The agreement’s key points include:
n The authority’s commitment to pay Widewater $500,000 within 30 days of Widewater receiving all needed city, state and federal approvals and permits; proof of financing and a bond to back up Widewater’s commitment; and all needed agreements with Hampton Inns or another nationally recognized high-quality hotel chain.
n A 15-year tax abatement agreement, expected to involve $1.5 million, that also allows revocation should the property stop being used as a hotel.
n Streetscaping that includes 1920s-era street lamps and decorative bricks.
The agreement is expected to be approved by city council before the end of the year. Widewater also must formalize Manatee County’s portion of the tax abatement and expects to receive that approval by year’s end. Finally, Widewater must finalize with the county and city some parking agreements, including the city’s commitment to transform about six parallel parking spaces along Tenth Street in front of the hotel into 20 angled spaces.
Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7081.