Working group ponders hotel possibilities for Manatee convention center

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 9, 2013 

PALMETTO -- A group of primarily Brazilian investors owns a parcel of swampy land just north of the Bradenton Area Convention Center that figured in the discussion Friday during the first meeting of a group trying to attract a hotel developer.

The working group met to brainstorm how to get a hotel built adjacent to the county-owned convention center so it would be more economically viable.

The property due north of the convention center is owned by Pinzon LLC, of Bradenton, which bought the 13.6 acres of vacant land for $2,750,900 in 2010, according to attorney Ryan Snyder, who represents the owners.

He was not at the meeting, but when asked afterward if his clients might help build a hotel, Snyder said, "They have no plans of building a hotel on it, but I think somebody might be interested

in it. The principals of Pinzon LLC own lot of property; they would welcome the invite, and would partake in something."

"It's a nice area, a hotel would definitely do well, I think, up there."

"Tell them to call me, I'll talk to them at any time," Snyder continued. "Obviously, it benefits them, benefits the city, benefits the county, if somebody gets something going up there."

The working group -- comprised of Palmetto and Manatee County officials, a lawyer and an architect -- was skeptical about whether the land owned by the Pinzon company would be suitable as a hotel site, since it is low, swampy wetlands.

"We all know too much about the 13 acres," said Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which operates the newly-renovated convention center at One Haben Boulevard in Palmetto.

But the group did not dismiss the possibility altogether that a hotel, or parking for one, might go there.

Architect Rick Fawley had brought a sketch suggesting another alternative: A hotel built on county-owned land on the convention center's west side.

Although the convention center faces the wrong way and would have to be "re-oriented" toward the hotel under such a plan, Fawley urged his colleagues to think about a parking garage underneath and rooms above, overlooking the Manatee River.

"This site has tremendous views," he said, "But you've got to get up in the air."

"You could have multiple hotels here," or a commercial node near the hotel featuring shops and offices, he told the group.

How a dysfunctional intersection is fixed at Seventh Street, which could be extended around the north end of the convention center, will affect the county's ability to attract a hotel, said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant.

The county has been seeking a partner to build a hotel at the site for at least 25 years, said attorney Clifford Walters, of Blalock Walters law firm. He recalled that originally, a hotel site had been planned south of the convention center where the Riviera Dunes complex is now.

The group probably will recommend that the county seek formal proposals for a hotel development sometime next summer.

"We'll look at anything that will drive new dollars into this community," Falcione said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow Sara Kennedy on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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