Sarasota-based Beneficial Communities may get a third attempt at developing the old Manatee Inns site in the 1400 block of 14th Street West.
The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority unanimously voted on Tuesday to recommend the city council allow Beneficial to take a third journey through the luck-based lottery tax credit application system through the Florida Finance Housing Corp.
The stipulation on the recommendation is the city can continue to market the property to the private sector prior to 30 days of the application submission deadline, which is later this fall. That stipulation has become commonplace as of late with officials growing weary of tying up property with little chance of success.
Beneficial’s Village Lofts affordable housing proposal is for an 80-unit live-and-work community to complement the Village of the Arts. It remains a popular project but building an estimated $15 million affordable housing project requires a tax subsidy.
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It’s a great project and I hope it’s successful in the next go around.
Jason Bartz, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority board member
“In my view, considering the location, any project that is going to be successful there is going to need some subsidy,” said DDA board member Jason Bartz. Beneficial’s project is something we all like. I have no problem with continuing. It’s a great project and I hope it’s successful in the next go around.”
City administrator Carl Callahan said the council won’t likely oppose another attempt as long as the property isn’t contractually tied up for very long. Frustration has mounted in recent months with getting hopes high only to be dashed because a good project drew a bad lottery number. Beneficial drew a number of 131 in January’s selection process. Only about 20 projects are funded annually and a lottery number outside of that is essentially eliminated.
The city has had various projects go through the lottery system and thus far has seen one success in the Grand Palms senior living complex in the 1700 block of 14th Street West, currently under construction. The city has been discussing getting more aggressive with their surplus properties by placing “professional for sale” signs.
As simple as it sounds, Bartz said the research is proven in how effective signage can be.
“The first thing people interested in developing in Bradenton do is to drive around the area,” Bartz said. “If they drive by an empty lot without a sign, their first assumption is that it’s not for sale.”
Callahan said the signage issue would be addressed, but what little interest there has been for the site has been related to the tax credits. The DDA still owes $509,000 on the property from when it paid close to $2 million for it in 2006 at the height of the real estate boom. The ensuing Great Recession left the property in limbo until early 2015 when Beneficial was selected for its first attempt to build the Village Lofts.