Hotel, marina planned for Tarpon Pointe

City memo reveals new waterfront project for Bradenton

cschelle@bradenton.comJune 30, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Developer R. Scott Tibbetts has a new vision for redeveloping a chunk of land along the Manatee River that features a six-story waterfront hotel.

An internal City of Bradenton staff memo acquired by the Herald reveals plans to turn the Tarpon Pointe Grill and Tiki Bar and Manatee Landings Marina lands into a commercial development. And it is possible that a hearing in front of the City Council may not be needed to approve the plans.

Tibbetts and his team plan for a 160-room hotel, plus, according to the memo:

• 11,500-square-foot retail space

• 1,500-square-foot retail kiosks

• 6,000-square-foot ships store

• 6,000-square-foot hotel restaurant

• 7,500-square-foot marina restaurant

• 26,500-square-foot parking garage

• 212-slip marina

Tibbetts, his attorney Edward Vogler and sometimes-business partner Carl Callahan -- who's also Bradenton city clerk and treasurer -- have worked on assembling properties in the 100 and 200 blocks of 6th Street East near Riverside Drive since 2000. Tibbetts is now looking at a 10-acre project.

Manatee Landings Marina was first approved for a dry boat storage, ships store and office and dockmaster building, but it never went beyond the Manatee Landings Marina building at 215 8th Street East.

Tibbetts earned approval in 2006 to amend the plan with a twin 13-story tower condo project with 25 townhomes, 438-space parking deck, a 198-slip marina and a 720-square-foot office.

The project never got off the ground because of the slumping economy.

Instead, Tibbetts received administrative approval in 2009 to build a 3,120-square-foot restaurant, which became Tarpon Pointe Grill and Tiki Bar. The bar is owned and operated by Bruce Bottorff of Palmetto.

Tibbetts has a couple of options for the new plan. One is to amend the planned development projected approved in 2006, and the other is to abandon the plan, which the memo states the developer would prefer.

Abandoning the plan would eliminate the 13-story approved building height because the zoning has changed, according to the memo.

"If they're going to amend their PDP, they're going to have to go before the council," said Tim Polk, director of planning and community development for the City of Bradenton. "If they're going to abandon the PDP and utilize form-based code and plan to develop what they plan to do, it can be done administratively."

The city hasn't been told which option Tibbetts will pursue, if any, Polk told the Herald.

A civil lawsuit filed by Bottorff is accusing Tibbetts of harassment and trying to take over the restaurant, but Bottorff isn't equating an eviction attempt with the new development. The lease for the restaurant does not expire until 2015.

"I would assume I would be a part of that, but I wouldn't know that because I haven't seen what the true plan is," Bottorff said.

Tibbetts has countersued the restaurant owners. He did not respond to requests seeking comment for this story.

Despite the landlord battles, Bottorff is excited about plans to fully realized a development in that neighborhood, envisioning that if a developer and the city could work together, an extended Riverwalk could make sense.

The Riverwalk now ends without making the turn at Waterfront and Riverside drives, which would lead straight into Tarpon Pointe.

"We've all seen that the property hasn't done anything in two years, and it would be awesome to see a developer come in and see what they could do to the property," Bottorff said. "It could anchor the eastern end of the Riverwalk, and maybe they'll even extend the Riverwalk into that area."

If the new plan were submitted, the square footage allowed would be well under the 2.2 million square feet of commercial space allowed under code, according to the memo. The project, with the existing boat storage and yet-to-be-built ship store and dockmaster building added, would be a total of 252,368 square feet, according to the memo.

The maximum height allowed in that T5 Urban Center zoning district is five stories, but with the Form-Based Code, the hotel receives a bonus one-story addition if public art is added to the project, according to the memo.

The marina would have to receive a special use permit in order to be built, according to the memo, and has the support of staff.

Potentially prepping for this new project, Tibbetts formed a shell company in March called Tarpon Pointe Development Partners. Like many commercial real estate deals, Tibbetts could gain project approval and sell the land to a new developer or hold an interest in the project or property.

In addition to Tibbetts, another managing partner in the new shell company is TechnoMarine Group Management, LLC of North Palm Beach, according to the Florida Division of Corporations.

Erik Sanderson, a managing member for the company, declined to comment.

The Quebec-based company specializes in building and designing custom marina systems, ferry terminals and hurricane-resistant floating docks, according to TechnoMarine's website.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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