With the success of Sage Biscuit at 1401 14th Ave. W. and the pending temporary elimination of downtown parking spaces once construction starts on the new City Centre parking garage, parking in downtown will be at more of a premium than it already is.
City officials are seeking at least a short-term solution that will help with overflow parking from Sage Biscuit and provide more downtown parking once a large portion of the city hall parking lot is removed for the parking garage project.
A large parking lot across from Sage Biscuit and the Bradenton Financial Center is privately owned by Montgomery-Roberts Associates, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s website. However, the city has a “right-to-use” agreement for a portion of unpaved spaces at the north end of the lot. Manatee County had a lease agreement for some of the paved spaces when the Clerk of Courts office was located on 13th Street West.
Signs stating, “Reserved Tow Away Zone,” still mark some of those spots but have been irrelevant for more than eight years when employees began parking in the judicial center parking garage. Currently, the only access to the lot is off 13th Street West, but the city is looking to create an access point off of 14th Street West and potentially do a crosswalk from the lot to about the midpoint of the restaurant and the financial center.
The city will offer to clean up the parking lot, add landscaping and maintain the lot, but the solution could be short term if the owner wanted to sell the lot for development.
Councilman Bemis Smith said it would be worth a small investment from the city to provide relief for businesses near Sage Biscuit, whose patrons sometimes use their parking lots, and create the additional parking downtown needed when construction starts on the new garage.
“Even if it goes away in a couple of years, it’s worth it,” Smith said.
With two fairly new businesses on 13th Street West and continued efforts to redevelop downtown outside of Old Main Street, Economic Development Director Carl Callahan said the deal will, “help all of our businesses have more parking on that end of town.”
The city wants the property to eventually be developed, so Callahan said the city would not look for a long-term commitment from the owner, who will retain the right to determine how much public parking there will be.
“That will be determined,” Callahan said. “It’s not evident right now that there is public parking on the unpaved portion. This deal is not in place right now, it’s just a handshake agreement, but it’s something we can move forward with quickly.”
Smith said the owner is already letting people park there and wants the city to go forward with a creative use of the property.
“It’s been kind of an eyesore on the downtown,” Smith said. “We want to make it nice. One of the frustrations downtown with properties like this is that the owners don’t live here. That’s not the case here. If we go in and do a little landscaping and clean it up, even if it’s temporary, it’s going to benefit everyone downtown.”