BRADENTON -- Anticipation continued to build Wednesday over the coming renovation of the “Pink Palace,” as Bradenton City Council officially agreed not to veto a development agreement between the Downtown Development Authority and The Widewaters Group.
The council also agreed to allow Widewaters free use of 40 city parking spaces, in what City Clerk Carl Callahan said was one of several “loose ends” that remained in arrangements for the historic building’s transformation into a Hampton Inn & Suites.
“We’ve all worked together and taken a significant step in the history of Bradenton by moving this forward,” said Mayor Wayne Poston, who took a moment during the council meeting to thank everyone involved. “The agreement wasn’t perfect for Widewaters and it wasn’t perfect for us, but it was the right decision.”
The council’s commitment not to veto the agreement helps ensure that Widewaters can begin immediately seeking permits for the project rather than waiting until mid-December.
“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had to wait 30 days from the DDA’s action,” which occurred Nov. 15, said Brian Long, Widewaters’ director of development. Under the authority’s bylaws, the city council has 30 days to veto the authority’s decisions.
Now that the city has finalized its commitment to the project, Widewaters’ only remaining loose end is with the county, which needs to finalize its share of the tax rebates Widewaters will receive as part of its development agreement. Overall, the agreement provides Widewaters $1 million in upfront payments from the authority; $1.5 million in tax rebates from the city and county over 15 years; an estimated $100,000 in streetscape improvements; and minor parking provisions, including the 40-space allotment approved Wednesday by the city.
In return, Bradenton receives renovation of one of its most visible landmarks, the Manatee River Hotel that is more commonly known as the “Pink Palace.” Built in 1926, the looming seven-story building at 10th Street and Third Avenue fell into disrepair and sat empty for the past several years.
Its renovation into a modern Hampton Inn & Suites is projected to draw 50,000 guests annually and generate 35 permanent jobs, 100 construction jobs, an overall economic impact of $2.5 million annually and more than $500,000 in tourist, sales and school tax revenue annually.
Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey said the project will provide “a beautiful gateway into the city,” while colleague Bemis Smith said the project is “one more step in the progression of trying to get more vibrancy and have a multi-faceted downtown.”
Christine Hawes, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7081