Hopes for a new 250-room hotel at the Bradenton Area Convention Center balance atop a complicated tripod of parties trying to work through a myriad of agreements. If any one of the three legs should falter, the project could come tumbling down.
Manatee County, developer Network Development Partners LLC and the city of Palmetto all must come to terms. Manatee County approved the project in September and is expected to vote on approving the land lease agreement at its Tuesday meeting. In the meantime, all of it still remains contingent on Palmetto approving a participation agreement as the county property sits within city limits.
Discussions on that agreement continued at Monday night’s Palmetto City Commission meeting, but the agreement was not moved forward for a vote.
The Marriott-owned Sheraton hotel is proposed to be built on the site of the current convention center parking lot. The county intends to turn over the land lease to Palmetto when construction is complete.
It has been pleasantly surprising dealing with two different public agencies.
Anthony DeRusso, developer for the convention center hotel project
CRA Director Jeff Burton said the participation agreement requires the CRA to invest $8.5 million. The funding would be for the purchase of 12.5 acres of convention center land to build a new permanent parking lot and be put toward extending 7th Street East to Haben Boulevard.
Developer Anthony DeRusso said the complicated arrangement has gone unexpectedly well.
“It has been pleasantly surprising dealing with two different public agencies,” DeRusso said. “Both the city and the county want to see this hotel built.”
DeRusso outlined a potential timetable if all goes well. He said final site plans will be submitted to the city by March 15, be reviewed by Marriott in May and have construction documents in place by September.
Construction of the temporary parking lot could begin by the end of the year with hotel construction beginning by March of 2018 and running until the end of 2019. The 204,000-square-foot hotel includes an 18,000-foot, two-story connector building between the hotel and convention center.
DeRusso said the building will likely include a restaurant and retail. The site plan also includes 110,000 square feet of land set aside for the convention center to operate expos and other activities. DeRusso said, essentially, the convention center and the hotel will operate hand in hand.
Palmetto officials have no issue with the hotel project. What Palmetto officials are seeing as a potential conflict is the Seventh Street East expansion. The city has long pursued the expansion, but want to ensure it is done to alleviate traffic and not cause more of it, noting the stretch of US 41/301 going north from the Haben intersection, north to the overpass is “obsolete,” according to Commissioner Jonathan Davis.
It is incumbent on the county to make sure it stays a priority. It needs to be done sooner rather than later and I’m putting that responsibility on the county.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant
Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said she would address that very issue with the county on Tuesday.
“That corridor has become a legislative priority and it’s long overdue,” said Bryant. “It is incumbent on the county to make sure it stays a priority. It needs to be done sooner rather than later and I’m putting that responsibility on the county.”