Should the property owners of DeSoto Square mall elect to redevelop the property in the future, it can now have a greater density and intensity.
DeSoto Square mall is in the area included in the Urban Corridors Comprehensive Plan amendment adopted by the county commission Monday, which is intended to encourage redevelopment along six urban corridors: Manatee Avenue West, Cortez Road, 53rd Avenue West/State Road 70, 14th Street West, 15th Street East and First Street.
“We stand ready to help if they ever want to do something,” Manatee County planning official John Osborne said. “We’ve had A to Z conversations, but we still haven’t had anything from them.”
As a large parcel along an urban corridor, the county really has to market DeSoto Square mall for redevelopment since there is “great potential there,” said Commissioner Charles Smith.
“I think we need to be bold,” he said. “They can sell part of that parking lot for hotels, apartment, condos and revitalize the area. It has to be some type of plan, some type of commitment. ... People really want to see things done in that area.”
With the size of the mall’s parking lot, Commissioner Carol Whitmore suggested thinking “a little bit outside the box” and possibly building apartments in the parking lot.
“We are in such a need for housing and apartments, and just be a little more creative,” she said, adding they “could make money, get activity there and provide housing that we desperately need.”
While there was no public comment made during Monday’s meeting, the commission spent considerable time debating whether to eliminate a portion of 53rd Avenue West from the amendment. Commissioner John Chappie, who represents West Bradenton, raised concern with including the portion from 34th Street West to 75th Street West.
“To me, the main area of focus should be from 34th Street West to the east, out that way where it is in desperate need,” he said. “To the west, I really have some heartburn over that.”
Ultimately, the commission voted to remove 36th Street West to 75th Street West along 53rd Avenue West from the amendment. The commission also unanimously approved some countywide Comprehensive Plan amendments Monday.
“It is a great plan, and it will move us into the future,” Chappie said.
Multiple state agencies reviewed the urban corridors plan amendment before the commission adopted the changes. Florida Department of Transportation commended Manatee County on the changes.
“Some necessary steps with much needed language to enhance the movement toward designing with more livable strategies that consider a sense of place and create an environment with neighborhood character,” FDOT stated. “Investing in the land use link with transportation can aid in the economic attractiveness and ultimately the success of a healthy community.”
The commission will now consider proposed changes to the county Land Development Code, which implements the Comprehensive Plan for urban corridors. The LDC changes will go before the planning commission on Oct. 13 and the county commission on Nov. 3 and 15 in the two required public hearings.
While the changes are focused on the southwest portion of the county, the county will address some other areas beginning next year, according to Osborne.
“We will be moving onto other areas,” he said.
The North Central Overlay District in Parrish could be one of these areas, Osborne said.
“There may be some things in the future,” he said.
Also on Monday, the commission approved the historic preservation ad-valorem tax exemption program, which is intended to “encourage the preservation and restoration of historic properties,” agenda materials state.