BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency board members boarded a trolley Wednesday morning to better visualize projects discussed at their regular monthly meetings.
According to CCRA Director Tim Polk: "The tour was to give the board a really good perspective of the district. Being on the board is one thing, but it doesn't give them the ability to make a visual connection with a lot of the things that are under their responsibility."
The board visited key CCRA project sites such as Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Love Park and development projects, including the proposed Minnie L. Rogers Plaza, expected to be the home of a new Save-A-Lot grocery store that will anchor several smaller businesses on the corner of First Street West and 13th Avenue West.
"Some of these projects
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have had a significant amount of (tax-increment fund) dollars put into them and it's significant to know for the board where they have voted to put that money into," said Polk.
The board saw updated lighting at MLK Park and toured the Minnie L. Rogers Plaza site where Polk gave members visualization of where the grocery store will be located as well as adjoining businesses. Asked when the plaza would break ground, Polk said the city has done everything it can and once the pre-development agreement was passed in August, the project is largely in the hands of the developer.
Randy Roth from project developer Wisconsin-based Endeavor Group did not return calls for comment but city officials said they hope construction begins soon.
The board also met with Bradenton Housing Authority Executive Director Ellis Mitchell Jr., who walked with members through BHA public-housing areas, specifically the Hope VI area of Bradenton Village, where the Rogers Plaza project is expected to provide the most benefit in terms of fresh food and jobs.
Polk said the tour will help the board as it moves forward.
"I don't think they've done this in a while and they have a lot of new board members, so they approached me about doing this," said Polk.
"They were surprised to see how much impact their decisions can have. It's one thing to hear about a particular area, but to actually see what they are involved in is another. Not only the projects, but (also) the time and effort it takes from the moment a project gets into the hands of staff and the tremendous amount of coordination and collaboration it takes to get these projects from start to finish.
"People need to know that it's not easy," he said.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.