BRADENTON BEACH — Four new tenants will move into the Historic Bridge Street Pier this month, bringing a new waterfront dining and shopping scene to Bradenton Beach.
Anna Maria Oyster Bar’s president John Horne will occupy one space with his restaurant and sublease the other three to a jewelry store, concierge service and a home furnishings store. Horne’s business plan for the pier was unanimously approved by the Bradenton Beach city commission Thursday night.
Ann Marie Nicholas, owner of Anna Maria Island’s A Room with a Hue on Pine Avenue, hopes to be open on the pier by Dec. 21, along with Laura Shely who owns Tide & Moon Jewelry, also on Anna Maria Island’s Pine Avenue.
Shely said her location on the pier will be a smaller satellite store. Nicholas plans to relocate to the pier.
“I’ll bookend the island,” Shely said.
Sherman Baldwin, general manager of Paradise Boat Tours, will open a concierge-like service on the pier. Baldwin said his business on the pier will offer bookings for tourist services like birding tours, turtle-watching tours, photography tours, Segway tours and bicycle tours, among others.
Horne also plans to open on Dec. 21. He said he’s had to renovate the property “substantially” to get it ready for the restaurant to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’ll open at 9 a.m. every day, close at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. If needed, Horne said they will adjust the hours.
Horne’s business proposal for the pier was unanimously selected at the July 23 Bradenton Beach city commission meeting. Following the selection, Horne negotiated with Bradenton Beach city attorney Ricinda Perry and his own attorney about subleasing two other properties on the pier.
The negotiations spurred a lawsuit filed Nov. 20 by Bazzy Marine Corp., owned by Allan and Michael Bazzy who operate the Bradenton Beach Marina, alleging the negotiations between Horne, his attorney and Perry about subleasing the other two properties were conducted in a manner that violated Sunshine Laws.
An ordinance passed by the commission on Sept. 3 reads:
“Whereas, AMOB desires to lease the Property for purposes of operating a Restaurant to provide food and drink concessionaire services and various low-impact recreational and tourist-friendly small businesses in the other two structures as set forth in the RFP.” The ordinance was read and opened for public comment at the Aug. 20 and Sept. 3 commission meetings. No comments were recorded during either meeting, according to Bradenton Beach city commission meeting minutes.
Baldwin said Thursday night’s approval gave him the “green light” to go ahead with moving into the space next week despite the lawsuit.
“We have always felt in our legal research on this with our attorney that it (the lawsuit) didn’t have any merit,” Baldwin said.
Horne’s conclusions about the lawsuit are similar.
“The lawsuit is completely unfounded,” Horne said. “Everything was done above-board.” Neither Allan nor Michael Bazzy could be reached for comment on Friday.
Fred Moore of Bradenton law firm Blalock Walters will represent the city in the Bazzy lawsuit. In an email to Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon, Moore said he saw no legal issues with the business plans for the two properties on the pier and Shearon said the council approved the plans based on his recommendation.
“It appears to me, based on the attached business plans that the proposed uses by the proposed sub-tenants fall within the Permitted Use of ‘recreational/tourist-friendly small business uses of low impact,’” Moore said in the email to Shearon. “Ultimately this determination is up to the commission.”
At the commission meeting Thursday, Anna Maria Oyster Bar’s liquor license, signage and awning were approved as well. The restaurant’s awning was installed Thursday night.
Janelle O’Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.