BRADENTON -- With last weekend's grand opening of Darwin Brewery and Motorworks Brewery's beer flowing cold and smooth not too far away, talk of yet another brewery is sudsing up a mixture of excitement and trepidation along Ninth Street West.
Causing the suds to stir is the recent sale of the old Petrik Market, 1721 Ninth St. W. While its fate is unknown, it will likely be home to something tied into the unofficial "sports and entertainment" district surrounding McKechnie Field.
Early talks are geared around another craft brewery for the neighborhood.
According to Manatee County Property Appraiser's Office records, the building and about .95 acre sold for $375,000 to McKechnie Realty LLC, owned by Vincent Crisci, who operates several Florida-based realty firms with a home business address in Mill Neck, N.Y.
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Crisci's company purchased the property from Moss Bradenton LLC, owned by Marion Moss, who purchased the property two years ago, but did little with it.
With the Bill Galvano One Stop Center for the homeless just a few blocks away on 17th Avenue West, the vacant property has become a sleeping destination for the homeless -- to the point where Bradenton Downtown Development Authority Executive Director David Gustafson says it has become an issue.
"Everybody I talked to around there said something had to be done due to people sleeping on the property, sleeping on the roof and using it as a bathroom," said Gustafson, who guided Crisci to the listing.
The property is on a prime corner -- Ninth Street West and 17th Avenue West -- of what city officials want to become the entertainment district. For now, the building is still part of the 14th Street CRA District. Nearby are McKechnie Field, the One Stop Center and Darwin Brewery, 803 17th Ave. W.
"The homeless problem was getting a little intense there," said Gustafson. "It was time for a new owner."
Crisci and Gustafson have partnered in the past by identifying properties for potential purchase for improvements or redevelopment to meet the goals of the DDA and other agencies to improve downtown Bradenton by attracting relevant businesses.
In 2013, acting on the behest of Gustafson, Crisci purchased the former Bradenton Office Center at 530 13th St. W. for more than $401,000 from Manatee County under the name of Swift 530 LLC. The county was using the building as a records storage facility at the time. A few months later and in the same block, Crisci purchased the Foster Drugs and Surgical Supplies building for more than $210,000 following the company's 2012 closure.
Some interior work has been done at those properties, but Crisci has not yet released any specific intentions for his latest purchase.
Gustafson said Crisci has not had a lot of luck in attracting a potential tenant for the downtown properties he purchased last year, "but he knows it's only a matter of time. It's the same with his latest purchase. I wouldn't think the price he paid for that property is a good deal, but it will be in five years. He's banking on the future."
Gustafson said he is always seeking investors for downtown Bradenton, and Crisci "has just been someone who has believed in what we are all trying to do and he wants to invest in that. He's not one of the big money guys, but he's probably spent over $1 million and that's a pretty strong statement that he believes in what we are doing.
"We are so appreciative to him and anyone who is helping us continue to enthusiastically and aggressively pursue our vision for downtown," Gustafson said.
Crisci apparently approached Darwin Brewery about the site, and was surprised to learn Darwin wants another craft brewery in the neighborhood, which already is home to Darwin's and the Motorworks Brewery, 1014 Ninth St. W.
"While we aren't looking to become the craft brewery capital of the world, it does fit into the sports and entertainment district idea," said Gustafson. "They believe there is strength in numbers."
A Darwin representative did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
Motorworks Brewery President Denise Tschida said she welcomes any new business that will add to the overall vision of an entertainment district -- but not necessarily another brewery.
"I have nothing against the idea of another brewery and we are happy to have Darwin as a neighbor, but I'm not sure anyone wants to see breweries line the street," said Tschida. "I think if you really want to start creating the walkable, pedestrian friendly entertainment district that we all envision, then it's time to bring in restaurants and other businesses that stay open late -- like the entertainment district in St. Pete where it is vibrant, thriving and people aren't afraid to park two blocks away."
Gustafson said the DDA is working with restaurants for other properties. The bottom line, he said, is it's another step that "demonstrates the quality ventures that are taking place in that area."
Any new business that replaces property falling into a dilapidated state is good news to Central Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Polk, whose CCRA plans and oversees improvements in the 14th Street CRA District.
The more that is done in the private sector, the less taxpayer funds are needed for investment.
Polk said the emphasis continues to be the 14th Street CRA District, but with continued private sector investment, "we envision that street correcting itself," he said. "Ninth Street is going to be a success and now with this latest purchase on 17th Avenue West, we are beginning to see the synergy there."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.