Old Palmetto riverfront bait shop demolished to free pricey property

jdeleon@bradenton.comJanuary 8, 2014 

PALMETTO -- Palmetto is looking at redeveloping a valuable site left vacant after an old bait shop was demolished Monday near the Green Bridge Fishing Pier.

The Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency tore down the old bait shop, which had been vacant for about seven years.

"The current plan is to remove a dilapidated structure from state property that is leased to the county and city property," CRA Director Jeff Burton said. "It's been closed now for the better part of multiple years."

The nearly 30-year-old bait shop had become an eyesore on prime waterfront property with views of Palmetto, downtown Bradenton and the mouth of the Manatee River into Tampa Bay.

"It was time to address it," Burton said. "The CRA took the building down, and we are going to clean up the property, and we will work with the city commission on the city property to see what they want to develop."

The bait shop straddled city and state property managed by the county, which complicated the process, Burton said. The city commission will now decide what will go on the property.

"Historically there was a tourist center there called the Sea Horse," Burton said.

He recalls seeing its 30-foot sea horse out front as a boy. Inside there was a live alligator, monkeys and birds. Proprietors served

juices and sold all sorts of Florida trinkets, he recalled.

"We have discussed having a destination point out here that could take advantage of the decking and the view," Burton said. "It is a great location."

City Commissioner Brian Williams said he wants some type of new bait and sandwich shop built, perhaps as a small branch of a local restaurant.

"I would love to see that come back," William said. "There is a lot of things that can be done."

Williams said he hopes whatever is built will enhance city ability to stage events there. He recalled city boat races just off the bridge and said he would love to resurrect such events.

"The CRA is trying to reach out and get ideas," Williams said. "There is just a lot of things that can be done with to coincide with city events."

Negotiations will begin sometime during spring, according to Burton.

"I just think it's a beautiful area," Williams said. "There is not a lot the place can be used for. It's very limited."

Activity is expected to increase in the area with a nearly $1 million dollar project to redevelop the boat ramp soon underway.

"We are going to bring in red brick like we did in downtown and light it up," Burton said.

The redevelopment project will be completed with funding from the city, CRA, West Coast Inland Water District and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter

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