There are very few steps left before a much-anticipated design phase begins for a major overhaul of downtown Bradenton.
Kimley Horn and Associates, which was contracted in April to design and coordinate the project, has been taking public input on the project since being hired and will move into final meetings with the public and downtown merchants beginning next week. Mayor Wayne Poston said the exciting part of the design phase could begin within three weeks.
Poston said from the city’s perspective, the project will be approached with a lot of enthusiasm, commitment and a focus to do it right.
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“For the last couple of decades, our mindset has been that if we build it, let’s build it first class,” he said.
The city council, as the Bradenton Community Redevelopment Agency, met Wednesday with the Downtown Development Authority and members of the DDA steering committee. It was the first presentation for the council, which expressed full support.
“I support it, whatever it will cost to build and maintain it,” said Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith. “But we have to have a plan to keep it maintained. There is nothing more frustrating than telling people how great something is and two years later it gets sort of threadbare.”
DDA board member Mike Carter said maintenance is a focal point of the process.
“We are being careful to look at materials that are as maintenance free as possible,” Carter said.
A full cost of the project won’t be known until it gets into the design phase, but the city has already invested $185,418 into Kimley Horn’s contract, which does not include construction costs.
For the last couple of decades, our mindset has been that if we build it, let’s build it first class.
Mayor Wayne Poston
The work includes new landscaping, widening of existing sidewalks, developing a walking connection linking downtown to to both the Village of the Arts and the Riverwalk, installing better shade and lighting and potentially expanding Riverwalk’s security camera system to Old Main Street.
The project could be broken down into phases to lessen impact, with an initial effort focused on an area between 10th and 13th streets west from the Manatee River south to Ninth Avenue West.
Economic Development Director Carl Callahan said with all the various projects the city has going on right now and into 2018, “We are seeing a lot of interest in buildings that have captured no interest for the longest time.”
Carter said everything is on pace to begin in “early 2108” and is expected to be completed by June of that year.
Kimley Horn will meet with downtown businesses at 8:30 a.m. May 23 at the Hampton Inn’s Colonade Room, 309 10th St. W. The meeting is open to all stakeholders, which Poston said, “is every Bradenton resident.”