BRADENTON -- After two prior attempts to win grant funding for improvements at city-owned Twin Dolphin Marina, leaseholder Don Miller Development Corp. of Bradenton, wants to move forward on its own with multimillion-dollar improvements. To do so, the company wants its lease payments reduced.
City Clerk Carl Callahan said the request falls in line with city economic development goals.
"In terms of economic development, it brings the city marina up to date, which will likely pay dividends with more (Pier 22) restaurant use and be beneficial to downtown businesses," said Callahan.
Miller Development wants what it plays the city each month reduced from 8 percent of rent collected to 2.5 percent. Callahan said the difference for the city amounts to about $1,000 a month, and in return, the marina would become a "state-of-the-art facility."
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Most work would be on the east side of the marina where several dock slips have been closed for months. The proposed $3.2 million project includes demolition, design, permitting, replacement and construction of floating docks with full utilities, pilings, gangways and dock accessories.
The goal is to attract more weekend and vacation boaters with vessels of more than 100 feet in length to make Twin Dolphin a "high-end marina."
"This request is for a long-term package that works for us, but helps him pay for the complete redevelopment," said Callahan.
Palmetto charges Regatta Pointe Marina a flat fee of $1,000 a month. Marina Jack's pays the city of Sarasota 3 percent of its restaurant and dock proceeds, but the city pays the state for its submerged land lease. Pier 22 pays Bradenton restaurant and dock proceeds and it pays for the submerged land lease plus all maintenance and upkeep.
Callahan said the 99-year-lease agreement signed in the 1990s was already reduced once from 15 percent to 8 percent after prior improvements. The lease deserved some new attention based on what private money could do for the public marina, he said.
"People with larger boats spend more money at the restaurant and downtown. It generates new demands for services," Callahan said.
Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff said he likes the idea of an economic development incentive but cautioned not to recommit to a long-term lease at such a low percentage.
"I think we can call this economic development, but there should be some time limit," he said. "It's the taxpayers who are the landlords of this property and we are their agents."
Callahan said Pier 22 is doing well. It recently completed more than $400,000 of interior renovations.
Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith said the language must be worked out, but supported the concept.
"It's one more arrow in our quiver of bringing people into Bradenton with money to spend," he said.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.