RaceTrac trying again for gas station in Whitfield Estates

Circle K backed out of previous deal for gas station at Pearl Avenue

cschelle@bradenton.comFebruary 13, 2014 

MANATEE -- Developers are trying again to get a once-rejected RaceTrac gas station approved in Whitfield Estates.

Bonus Properties, a division of Sarasota-based Bank of Commerce, received preliminary approval for a gas station in June. The gas station was pegged to be a Circle K, but the company pulled out of the deal before the approval. Commissioners Carol Whitmore and Robin DiSabatino voted against that project in June.

The developer has to seek approval because the company is deleting a second commercial building at 7,250 square feet and bumping up the size of the 4,400-square-foot convenience store to 5,928 square feet, Manatee County planner Shelley Hamilton said.

The gas station has not been placed on a Manatee County Planning Commission agenda yet, but would likely be discussed in April or May, she said.

The RaceTrac, originally proposed in 2009, would still feature eight pumps and 16 fueling stations, she said, and traffic studies and architectural features are still being reviewed.

After seeing the proposed design for the RaceTrac at a community meeting in January, Whitfield Estates resident Norm Luppino said residents thought the building looked "garish."

"They were trying to make it a nice asset for an entrance to a neighborhood, as opposed to now, it's something you would see by the interstate," he said.

Residents would like RaceTrac to reduce the width of the layout of the pumps to consolidate space and give the gas canopy a mansard roof instead of a flat one.

Luppino admits it's frustrating after already helping negotiate with RaceTrac once to have a design similar to the Mediterranean Revival homes and then again with Circle K, only to go back to the drawing board for a third time.

"It gets frustrating," he said. "Everyone wants predictability, and neighborhoods are no different from developers in wanting predictability. You hope to negotiate predictability in good faith."

Mark Barnebey, the attorney representing RaceTrac, did not return a message seeking comment for this story by deadline.

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

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