Palmetto announces list of downtown projects

nwilliams@bradenton.comJanuary 15, 2013 

PALMETTO -- City of Palmetto and other Manatee officials gathered Tuesday to announce a slew of redevelopment projects happening in the city's downtown and riverfront area.

The list of projects, made possible through various state and city grants, include It Works! Global, a Michigan-based multimillion dollar weight-loss body wrap and dietary supplement company, purchasing the Riverside Plaza on the city's riverfront for company expansion and the purchase of the city's nearly 100-year-old Olympia Theatre at 512 10th Ave. W.

One of the fastest growing companies in the nation, It Works! Global moved to Bradenton in 2011 and employs a staff of 59 and has over 40,000 independent distributors across the globe. The company also owns Stoneybrook Golf Course in Manatee The company purchased the plaza for just over $3 million.

"We're excited to bring jobs, high-level jobs," said Mark Pentecost, CEO of It Works! Global. "We're imagining already 100-plus people working here."

Relocating its headquarters to the Riverside Plaza building gives the company the ability to apply for state economic brownfield grants, city officials said.

"Through the excellent collaboration of our economic development partners, we are thrilled to see this project come to fruition," said Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of Manatee Economic Development Corporation.

In December, Palmetto commissioners passed a resolution designating a portion of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency district as a brownfield area. The designated area, called Palmetto Economic Enhancement District, consists mainly of downtown Palmetto, including the plaza, with the bulk of the district planned along 17th Street West between 11th Avenue West and Canal Road.

Administered by the Florida Department of Environment Protection, the brownfield redevelopment program assists in the development of properties that may have environmental issues as a result of past uses, such as agricultural or industrial.

The program would make property owners in the brownfield eligible for grants, tax credits and other benefits.

To make way for the It Works! Global redevelopment project, the Electra Health Club and Spa will move into a $2 million renovation of the River's Edge Apartments at 334 10th Ave. The current complex will be demolished and a new building will accommodate the spa on the first floor with apartment units on the second.

The spa, which has been located at the Riverside Plaza since 2006, has temporarily moved to 900 Eighth Ave. W.

As for the theater, New York musical and visual artist Alexander Berne has stepped in to renovate the historic 48,000-square-foot building. Berne, a saxophonist who has released multiple recordings, plans to continue his work at the Olympia.

Built in 1916, the theater was the first of its kind on the west coast of Florida. After decades of showing films, the theater shut down in 1956. The theater reopened in 2009 operating as Olympia Performing Arts Center when Joel Jarvis, a longtime Palmetto resident and retired general contractor, poured more than $1 million worth of renovations into the building to host shows for and by the community.

Jarvis died on Jan. 12, 2012.

"We appreciate all of those who have worked with us to bring these projects forward," said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant.

The news conference also revisited the city commission's December approval of a $50,000 storefront grant to Manatee County Rural Health Services. Manatee Rural Health purchased the Bank of America building at 700 Eighth Ave. W. to expand its administrative services by 80 people.

Lastly, the conference address the CRA's plans to put out bids for builders and developers to purchase property at 926 Fifth St. W. The property, which can accommodate six small buildings, is vacant and officials hope attracting businesses will stimulate the local economy.

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

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