BRADENTON -- Construction has begun on the 179-unit luxury RiverSong Apartments, which will be on three and half acres near Bradenton's Riverwalk directly west of the Manatee Performing Arts Center.
This week, crews finished putting up fencing and demolished a building on the property. On Friday, workers began clearing the land.
"We expect the construction period to be about 14 months," said developer Bill Ranck, from Ranck & Associates based in Atlanta.
He said the next phase of construction will begin in two to four weeks. Crews will lay the structure's foundation.
"Because of Christmas you may not see much until the first of the year," Ranck said. "We're getting ready to put up a sign to let people know it's coming."
Soon to rise from the area known as "the sand pile" will be a four-story luxury apartment complex with a club room, pool and fitness center.
"It will be a full luxury apartment complex," Ranck said. "It fits right behind the Manatee Players building."
Ranck said the apartments will
rent for $975 to $1,800 a month.
He said this deal had been three years in the making. City Council approved the project last year with 16 stipulations, including a requirement developers begin building a restaurant west of the Manatee Players Performing Arts Center 90 days after a certificate of apartment occupancy is issued.
At one time, plans called for the apartment complex to have 19,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and bank space, but that was scrapped for 30,000 square feet of retail along the property as market demand arises.
Ron Allen, a general contractor for NDC Construction, said everything is on track.
"Plans haven't changed," Allen said.
Ranck said apartments fall in line with the city's vision for the future of downtown.
"I think Bradenton is on the right track and they seem to be very progressive," Ranck said.
There is a deficit of residential housing in the downtown area and that's what the developer identified, said Dave Gustafson, director of the Downtown Development Authority.
He said there are more young professionals and "empty nesters" who are looking for housing in downtown.
"This is truly just a drop in the bucket of what we need because so many people are starting to move back into the downtown urban core," Gustafson said. "It's an indication of what we are doing as a team is working."
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.