MANATEE -- County officials have decided to consider offers for the historic 1925 Merrill Lynch Building in downtown Bradenton after hearing from potential buyers.
The 20,000-square-foot building at 1002-1010 Manatee Ave. W. sits next door to the seat of government, the County Administrative Center.
"We're always looking at our surplus properties," said Charlie Bishop, county director of property management.
Manatee County commissioners Tuesday agreed to Bishop's plan to do a "Request for Proposals," in order to better control who might buy or lease the building.
County officials are seeking someone who would really use the building, they said.
"We think with the RFP process, we could find something that would build the foot traffic in downtown Bradenton," said Deputy County Administrator Karen Windon.
When the county previously sold surplus properties in another downtown block, a speculator bought it, and the area is not "seeing great use of it," said Windon.
The county houses its animal adoption center and a fitness center in the building.
Should the county reach an agreement with a buyer or lessee, the adoption and fitness centers would be moved elsewhere, said County Administrator Ed Hunzeker.
"There's enough interest out there in the community," he said.
"For that building, it would be almost inappropriate not to entertain it."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.