A little more than a week after selecting Kimley Horn to spearhead the project to improve the look of downtown Bradenton, the scope of the project is tentatively beginning to take shape.
The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority’s steering committee sat down with representatives of Kimley Horn on Thursday to begin those discussions and an initial conceptual design could be ready by the end of the month for public input and review. That presentation also will shine more light on potential costs.
The committee has specific goals to accomplish for what is expected to be a multiphase project beginning with Old Main Street and then expanding outward in both directions between 10th and 13th streets west. The project area is bounded on the north by the Manatee River and on the south by Ninth Avenue West.
Initial suggestions are the possible replacement of a large percentage of downtown brick pavers in exchange for uniquely designed concrete options, more public art, improved lighting, landscaping and widening of sidewalks.
We know it will look great when it’s done, but we want it to look great five to 10 years from now.
Jason Bartz, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority
“Long-term maintenance is critical,” said DDA board member Jason Bartz. “We know it will look great when it’s done, but we want it to look great five to 10 years from now. This is an opportunity to start what we envision is the best-case scenario and we’ll begin the process of aligning that into a budget. But for now, we want to shoot for the stars.”
Extending Riverwalk’s security camera system into the downtown area is another goal. It has been a topic of discussion for some time, and locations have already been mapped out.
“If we want downtown to be a destination point for residents and visitors, we want them to know it’s safe,” Bartz said.
DDA members also want something more permanent in place to close down Old Main Street for special events rather than the portable, plastic barricades currently used. Kimley Horn representatives said they could provide a variety of options, including hydraulic bollards that rise up from the ground.
DDA board member Mike Carter said creating more shade south of Manatee Avenue West is needed.
“When you get south of Manatee, there is virtually no shade,” he said. “One of our goals is for people to walk from Riverwalk to the Village of the Arts. They are all happy until they get to Sixth Avenue and it’s like hitting the Manatee River, trying to cross, and the other side is not very inviting to pedestrians.”
Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham said the committee is looking to see a “visual experience as people walk from the downtown to the Village of the Arts.”