Bradenton agrees to advance $800,000 for Manatee Players new construction

mvalverde@bradenton.comOctober 11, 2012 

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton City Council agreed Wednesday to advance $800,000 for the construction of the new Manatee Players facility in downtown Bradenton, hoping to meet the anticipated March 2013 completion date.

The council's "agreement in principle" calls for $800,000 in loans to be advanced from the $1.1 million pledge made in June by the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton and the Kiwanis Foundation toward construction of the new performing center.

"We think this is a good opportunity to facilitate all the things that are going on," said Carl Callahan, city clerk and treasurer. "This is a way we can step up and help."

The city is using cash reserves to provide the loans, he said. Respective attorneys are working on finalizing an agreement for the council's approval.

"We always try to be involved in big projects that we feel will benefit the community in general," said John Vita, chairman of the long range planning committee for the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton. "Having this world-class performance center would be of great use to everyone in the community."

The advance consists of a $500,000 loan to be paid back to the city at $50,000 a year for 10 years. The interest rate on that loan is still to be determined, according to the agreement memorandum.

The club has also agreed to give the Manatee Players $300,000 from the sale of their own 14th Street building. The club would then move its meeting place to a room at the new Manatee Players site.

Under the new agreement, the city is also advancing that $300,000 from the property sale. This loan is for three years, but if the Kiwanis building has not been sold at that point, the loan would be due in full. The interest rate on that loan is also pending.

The loans basically monetize all the pledges the club has made, Vita said.

"We've always been known as the downtown club," he said. "This gives us an opportunity to have more of a presence."

Janene Witham, executive director of Manatee Players, said the agreement is part of the letter of intent issued by the Kiwanis Club a few months ago to help in the construction of the venue's second floor. The club approached the city for help in expediting those funds that were not readily available, she said.

The club is also providing $300,000 cash to the Manatee Players, part of the $1.1 million.

"This is huge, not only for our community but for Manatee Players as an organization," Witham said. "The Manatee Players looks forward to a long-term partnership with Kiwanis."

The Manatee Players still need an additional $900,000 for the construction, she said. The club's $1.1 million commitment is definite though the sources of funding from the club may change, added Witham. "When we are all set and done and all the programs are online, it will be a $15 million project," she said.

The council also agreed to extend its existing $2.8 million loan to the Manatee Players into a 21-year loan, with an interest rate of 3.09 percent. The original loan was issued in 2007 for five years.

Councilman Patrick Roff said it is important to note that the city has been supportive of the Manatee Players and their efforts to build a new venue near the Manatee River.

"We are doing the lion's share," he said.

Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024.

Follow her on Twitter @MiriamValverde.

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