Lakewood Ranch government group purchases five acres for new facility

nwilliams@bradenton.comNovember 30, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After patiently waiting for months, the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority was finally able to finalize its purchase of five acres from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to build a $2.4 million maintenance facility on Wednesday.

At $25,000 per acre, the cost of the transaction was $125,000.

The IDA was waiting on approval from Manatee County Building and Development on its site plan before making the purchase. The site plan was approved Nov. 14.

"We are expecting to break ground in mid-January," said Ryan Heise, operations manager for the IDA.

The maintenance and operation staff is expected to make the transition to the new facility the first week of September 2013.

The new facility is currently out to bid, with responses due on Dec. 13. The IDA held a pre-bid meeting for contractors to make proposals to construct the building. The contractors in attendance at the meeting were Manasota Construction, Walbridge,

Willis A. Smith, Halfacre Construction, Crowley Services Inc., Magnum Builders, Power Contracting and Universal Engineering.

Preparing the site for construction will cost the IDA $525,179.

The IDA's lease on the existing facility, a set of portables located adjacent to Pinnacle Academy on Lorraine Road, will expire next October. Pinnacle Academy, a private, nondenominational school which specializes in the education of children with autism and related disorders, is in talks with SMR, the developer of Lakewood Ranch, about purchasing the land used by the current maintenance facility.

Financing the facility, however, is still an ongoing process. In July, the IDA approved a motion to pursue a 12-year bank loan plan on the facility, but a lender has yet to be chosen.

Lakewood Ranch's Community Development District 2, which serves the Country Club and Edgewater neighborhoods, will be the lead agency on financing the $2.4 million maintenance facility. Steve Zielinski, chief financial officer of the IDA, said District 2 was the most attractive option for financing the facility because it financed the building of town hall years ago.

The new facility will include storage and vehicle areas, a 2,578-square-foot fleet bay, offices for staff, a conference room, showers, restrooms and a break room. The IDA board approved expanding the design of the facility by 2,100 square feet to include a drive-through bay, increased storage room and a covered parking area for vehicles. The alterations increased the total cost by $200,000.

The original cost estimate was $2.2 million.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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