The sound of construction is rumbling from the site work that has begun at 102 12th St. W. for a new $17 million Spring Hill Suites hotel.
“That’s the sound of happiness,” said Mayor Wayne Poston.
The work signals the beginning of a major construction boom heading for downtown Bradenton in the next few months and it’s sending waves of enthusiasm near and far. Because of that excitement, the City Centre parking garage to be built on the corner of Old Main Street and Third Avenue West is being seen as more critical than ever to making a statement in the downtown area for decades to come.
Carl Callahan, city administrator, said word of Bradenton’s progress is drawing a lot of interest in potentially setting up more retail in the garage.
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“Lots of people are expressing interest in the garage, which is great, but it makes it more difficult as we go into the design phase,” he said. “We had planned on maybe five small retail places, but this changes the way we may want to look at it.”
Vice Mayor Patrick Roff cautioned about “building speculative spaces,” especially because the construction industry is peaking at top dollar again.
“We are only vision talking right now,” Roff said. “We’ve already missed the bottom end of the construction market and we need to get ready for a sticker shock when you start talking about adding more space and especially more floors.”
I want to make sure this ship keeps sailing. We have to keep it moving forward.
Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown
Callahan said any additional retail space put into the final design would require a financial commitment from private enterprise looking to purchase the space. Callahan said he is meeting with the development team next week and would ask them to include some additional ideas and cost estimates.
The city has struggled to fill empty office buildings downtown and certainly doesn’t want empty storefronts in the garage. However, officials are willing to bank that won’t happen. Should additional retail space be added and filled, it would only help fill those empty spaces as more people and businesses look to the downtown area.
Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown said time is of the essence.
“I want to make sure this ship keeps sailing,” he said. “We have to keep it moving forward.”
The development agreement with Spring Hill Suites commits 100 parking spaces to the hotel. Although it has been the goal to complete the garage before the hotel is completed in June of 2018, Callahan said three-to-five months in delaying construction won’t affect the agreement.
Currently, the proposal is to build a four-to-five-story garage. Theoretically, the city could go as high as 12 stories under zoning regulations. With cost estimates varying between $8 million and $11 million as it is, how much the city is willing to invest still relies on a final design.
Callahan said that is still “weeks and weeks away.”