Bradenton approves RiverSong and restaurant construction in 'Sandpile'

mvalverde@bradenton.comMay 24, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Development plans for a "first class" 4-story apartment complex and a restaurant in the downtwon "Sandpile" area were unanimously approved by the Bradenton City Council Wednesday, with 16 stipulations attached.

The approval was part of a "major amendment" request for the 14.62-acre "The Promenade at Riverwalk" development and came almost a year after another amendment request was denied by the council.

The new RiverSong apartment complex will have 179 units, 288 parking spaces, and no ground floor retail space -- a change from a 2009 approved amendment which then noted that the complex would be five stories tall, have 225 apartment units, a five-level parking garage and approximately 19,000 square feet of retail and bank space on the ground floor.

Edward Vogler II, managing member of Bradenton Riverfront Partners II, LLC, who hold a 99-year lease on the Sandpile property, said that although the new apartment complex would not have retail space, there would be about 30,000 square feet of it scattered throughout the development area.

Bradenton Riverfront Partners II added a stipulation to the site plans stating that it would build a restaurant west of the Manatee Performing Arts Center, also on the Sandpile area, 90 days after the RiverSong developer issued a certificate of apartment occupancy.

Construction of the Manatee Performing Arts Center is estimated to be completed by March 2013, Vogler said. Oxford Properties, an Atlanta-based developer and construction company, is expected to complete the RiverSong apartment complex by spring 2014, he said.

Councilman Patrick Roff said he had an "uneasey feeling" about Vogler's stipulation, but believed the downtown area needed new residents and would trust Bradenton Riverfront Partners and "hope everything comes true as promised."

Bradenton's planning commission recommended 15 stipulations to the agreement, including the establishment of a Manatee County Area Transit station within the development, landscaping compatibility with the waterfront park and that the future RiverSong residents sign a "hold harmless" agreement "indicating their acknowledgment and acceptance of the exisiting riverfront amphitheater's proximity to the residential development."

Since the city approved the new site plans, Wells Fargo Bank would withdraw claims against the city, Vogler said.

Wells Fargo, who owns the RiverSong parcel, filed a suit in circuit court and a land-use challenge following last year's city council's denial of an amendment which sought to eliminate ground floor retail from the complex, the Herald has reported.

Vogler said the bank would drop the claims because there would be "no reason to fight about prior denial." Bradenton Riverfront Partners was not involved in the claim, he said.

Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey excluded herself from voting Wednesday on the site plans due to a conflict of interest.

"As a city we have to continue to move forward, we have the riverfront park moving forward," said Councilman Bemis Smith, agreeing that the city was placing trust on the developers. "If there was ever a time to get moving to get more residents downtown it couldn't be any better than now."

Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @MiriamValverde.

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