BRADENTON -- Coastal Orthopedics is seeking approval to build an office complex designed to link the area's sports tourism with the medical community on the Bradenton Herald's downtown site, which clears the way for the news organization's move later this year.
The Herald, 102 Manatee Ave. W., plans to move to a new location in downtown pending the sale of its building to the project's developer Acquisition Advisors. Coastal Orthopedics will be part of the first phase of the property redevelopment if approved by the city.
Coastal is proposing a three-story, 55,000-square foot medical office building situated on the corner of U.S. 41 and Manatee Avenue West that is now open land and trees. The parking lot will be reconfigured for 275 spaces, according to the plans filed with the city.
Bradenton-based Coastal Orthopedics specializes in sports medicine and pain management, working with athletes from the Pittsburgh Pirates, U.S. Soccer, IMG Academy and the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. The company has offices in west Bradenton, East Manatee, Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota.
A second phase of redevelopment will be announced later for 4 acres where the Herald building stands, according to the plans.
The Herald has signed a letter of intent to lease space in the Riverview Center, 1111 Third Ave. W., in downtown Bradenton, said Kevin Crawford, a broker for The McClatchy Co., parent company of the Bradenton Herald. The move would put the Herald in the center of everything, sandwiched between City Hall and the county building, an ideal spot for news-gathering.
Bob Turner, president and publisher of the Bradenton Herald, noted that the Herald leases the current building from the pension fund. The 10-year lease has a $4 million aggregate annual rent paid to the pension fund. He said he did not know the status of negotiations to sell the Manatee Avenue site, which has been on the market since 2009.
The Herald is working on its plans to move later this year, Turner said.
"I'm excited about the prospects," Turner said.
WhiteStar Advisors, a real estate assets management company for McClatchy's pension fund, has filed preliminary application with the city of Bradenton. The property is zoned for light industrial use, and remaining tenants for the building have not been announced.
The property is under contract for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close by early January 2014, said James Bishop, president and chief executive officer of WhiteStar Advisors. The deal could close earlier if the city approves the site plan, he said. The sale was unsolicited, Bishop said.
"All of the net proceeds will go to the pension fund," Bishop said.
Asked about the impact of a move on the newsroom, Herald Executive Editor/Vice President Joan Krauter said it will help the Herald's and Bradenton.com's plans to expand their reach on all platforms.
"We've been looking forward to moving into the heart of Bradenton for a long time," Krauter said Tuesday. "The timing is great, as we expand both our print and mobile reach. As our economy recovers, the newsroom plans to focus on our growth areas -- particularly the downtown renaissance and the resurgence of East Manatee. And the move will allow us to make some significant technological improvements."
Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, said the moves are exciting for downtown.
"I think it's just another demonstration to the community and to our region that there are more opportunities in the downtown area," he said. "We certainly welcome Coastal Orthopedics to expand in our downtown area. We're excited to know the Bradenton Herald and its staff will be even more in our downtown core."
Gustafson added that he's excited to see the synergy between Manatee Memorial Hospital next door and the new office building.
Carol Whitmore, county commissioner and chairwoman of the Tourist Development Council, said Coastal Orthopedics's presence downtown will do wonders for sports tourism, given Coastal's relationships with IMG, the Pirates and other organizations.
"If we are promoting and hosting world-class events with elite athletes, it's good that the medical community is stepping up to provide the best care for the athletes we're getting from all over the world," Whitmore said.
Requests for comments were not returned by officials from Coastal Orthopedics by press time Tuesday.
The site plans are pending approval by the city of Bradenton. The city's Department of Planning & Community Development reviewed the pre-application April 23, and no date for site plan review before the Planning Commission is scheduled.
Acquisition Advisors, based in Jupiter, will oversee development of the property. The company, which also has operations in Jupiter, specializes in real estate development for health care companies, according to its website.
The Herald has called 102 Manatee Ave. W. home since Oct. 3, 1984, when then-owner Knight-Ridder Newspapers opened the doors. Before then, the Herald was at 401 13th St. W., since September 1922.
Knight-Ridder sold the Herald to McClatchy in 2006, and the company then sold its building in 2011 to the McClatchy pension fund for $4.77 million as part of a larger strategy for McClatchy to fund required pension contributions.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.