BRADENTON -- The city of Bradenton entered into a $650,000 purchase agreement Wednesday with North Star Lodging and Development to potentially develop a $17 million Marriott-owned Spring Hill Suites hotel on the old Manatee Players site across from City Hall.
The hotel would consist of 120 suites within a nine-story building featuring a 3,000-square-foot bottom-floor restaurant. David Cocco, president of North Star Lodging and Development of Pittsburgh, said it is his goal to partner with a Bradenton restaurateur to operate the restaurant and an outside tiki bar at the pool.
"We are partnering with the people of Bradenton," said Cocco. "It's important we bring local people in and this project will create hundreds of jobs through construction, the hotel, restaurant and bar."
The purchase agreement is contingent on Marriott signing off on the final site plan but Cocco said Marriott is "100 percent on board. Once we get approval of this purchase agreement, we will proceed with the formal approval in an expeditious manner. Our goal is to break ground this fall."
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According to the purchase agreement, North Star will pay a $10,000 deposit with the $640,000 balance paid in cash at closing. The deposit will be held in escrow during a 120-day due diligence period to make a final determination the half-acre property is suitable for the project, which Cocco said it is based on early renderings and site plans. The purchase agreement states both parties have until Feb. 1, 2017, to terminate the agreement if a closing doesn't occur, but Cocco said he doesn't anticipate any issues.
"Spring Hill Suites is a unique concept that is somewhere between a Hampton Inn that is more for one-night guests to a Resident Inn, which is more for an extended stay," he said. "Spring Hill Suites guests typically stay for three to four nights and it is very appropriate for this area. North Star Lodging is excited to bring you a top-notch, high-quality product."
As part of the deal, the city agreed to give up 100 spaces at City Hall parking lot. Discussions are already underway about building a new parking garage there.
"Parking availability will be a key in getting the project approved," said Callahan. "If the agreement was left as it is, it would squeeze us, but we have various options we can look at, and while they are in their due diligence, we will be in our due diligence to see about long-term parking solutions. The reality is, it's faster to put up a parking garage than they can construct the hotel," which is about a 14-month timeline.
Mayor Wayne Poston said the hotel and parking garage fit into the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp.'s goals to expand Bradenton, "and Bradenton's plans to expand Old Main Street into the Village of the Arts. This is all pieces of that to make it work. We've talked about a parking garage for a long time. In fact, we've talked about two."
Vice Mayor Gene Gallo and Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff said at last week's hotel project workshop the city should not be short-sighted when it comes to a garage. Roff called for at least five levels.
Gallo said the city should consider adding retail such as a new restaurant on top of the garage.
Callahan said work is being done to gauge size estimates and costs.
"Studies show (city center) is the ideal location," Callahan said. "There are a lot of things in our favor to make this work and to do it quickly."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him Twitter@urbanmark2014.