Parking lot plan pending for 'Pink Palace'

mvalverde@bradenton.comFebruary 11, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Transformation of the city’s historic “Pink Palace” is almost good to go. All that is pending is a parking agreement between Manatee County and developer Widewaters Bradenton LLC., said David Gustafson, executive director of Bradenton Downtown Development Authority.

“We are not waiting for economic stimulus to come back on its own,” said Gustafson. “We are creating stimulus.”

He said about 35 parking spots are still needed for the new Hampton Inn & Suites that will replace the Manatee River Hotel at 309 10th St. W., popularly known as the Pink Palace.

The new hotel will require 120 parking spaces, and about 85 have already been secured, Gustafson said. The pending spaces may be allocated at the southwest corner of 10th Street West and Fourth Avenue West.

Widewaters is expected to go before the county commission in about a month seeking the approval of the spaces.

Additional parking will be available in front of the hotel, and the city will allow Widewaters to offer parking around the Manatee Chamber of Commerce building, Gustafson said.

Renovations and construction of the hotel are expected to start this summer and to be completed around the same time next year.

About 50,000 guests are estimated to come to the hotel annually, bringing a $2.5 million economic boost to the area, said Gustafson.

“It’s an icon in the community,” he said of the location. “It’s a beautiful historical building.”

The project may cost $15-17 million, and will create approximately 100 construction jobs and about 35 full-time jobs once it opens.

Previous owners have gutted floors 2-8, Gustafson said, but Widewaters has agreed to restore the lobby, ballroom, and four exterior sides to look just like it did in the 1920s, when it was first built.

“It’s a guarantee that people come into communities to search out historical structures,” he said. “Especially, historical hotels.”

Jeanne Akers, president of the Manatee County Historical Society, said she looked forward to the planned renovations and hoped the new hotel would preserve the famed historic quality.

“It will give jobs to the people of Bradenton,” Akers said of the new business. “And Lord knows we need it.”

She suggested that including a dining area which members of the public, not just guests, could enjoy would be a great addition to the building.

The Pink Palace has been deemed a “brownfield site” under the Brownfields Redevelopment Act, meaning that there is potential environmental contamination in that area.

Prior to renovations, the area has to be cleaned up, but it will not create schedule delays, Gustafson said.

The building has been vacant since 2005 and at one point during its course served as a senior citizens residence. Widewaters bought the location in 2009.

Gustafson said that in most people’s memories the building has always been pink, but when it was first built it actually had an earth-tone color.

He said the color of the new hotel has not been determined.

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