The Bradenton City Council, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, released a request for qualifications on Wednesday that moves a downtown streetscaping project forward.
Conversations about upgrading the appearance of the Old Main Street corridor, which also includes 11th and 13th streets west, began last summer. Bradenton Downtown Development Authority board member Mike Carter said then that maintenance of Old Main Street had fallen off in recent years.
Carter pointed out Old Main was looking “old and tired,” and that the city did something similar years ago that had “a huge impact.”
The DDA is upping the stakes this time around with not only proposing new landscaping, but it could eliminate street parking in favor of wider sidewalks. Such a move, board members believe, would increase downtown walkability while providing more room and space for business owners.
Improved lighting also is a primary consideration. The RFQ will allow interested companies to create a vision of downtown improvements, taking into account what the city wants. The RFQ does not take into account cost considerations and there are no cost estimates at this time.
Companies have until Feb. 27 to submit the RFQ. The DDA will act as the selection committee and choose three of the best submissions to forward to the city council for final consideration.
“The DDA will help with the design by providing the essentials of what we want,” said Carl Callahan, city administrator.
The project could go into design and planning by spring, but officials hope to coordinate this latest project with several others getting ready to start in the first half of 2017. Included is a project to install new water and sewer lines in downtown.
The city also wants the infrastructure project to take place first as there will be significant construction on Old Main Street. Other projects include the new $17 million Spring Hill Suites hotel across from city hall, a new parking garage on the southwest corner of the city hall parking lot, the $4.5 million renovation of Twin Dolphin Marina and the $12 million expansion of the South Florida Museum.
All of these major projects will change the look of downtown and officials are feeling a sense of urgency to get the city hall building officially on the market. Officials want to sell city hall and move to a new location, making the current site available for development in order to continue a push for downtown waterfront redevelopment.