BRADENTON -- Manatee County officials are re-evaluating a $3-million plan to build a new adjunct facility near the county tax collector's Bradenton office after the owner of a nearby property offered what he said was a better deal.
Last week, county officials toured the solar-powered property at 3500 Ninth St. W., and came away impressed with its potential, said Manatee County Tax Collector Ken Burton Jr.
"We've been looking at it," Burton said Tuesday. "It can work for us. We can make this building work."
Property owner Christopher Cantolino emailed a letter dated Dec. 13 to county commissioners offering his 23,500-square-foot professional building as an alternative to constructing a new one.
"The building is now for sale at $2.65 million, which is a better cost-effective solution with long-term expansion opportunities when compared to current proposed building," Cantolino wrote after reading a news article about the county's most recent plan.
Initial county plans called for purchase of property at 904 U.S. 301 Blvd. W., demolition of a former ABC Liquor Store on the site and construction of a new 8,500-square-foot building at a cost of $3 million.
Burton has told commissioners an adjunct facility was needed to more efficiently handle those seeking help with driver's licenses since he expects a "tsunami" of customers in 2017. New growth in Lakewood Ranch and elsewhere in the county, plus changes in immigration laws, will result in thousands of new residents each year needing new driver's licenses, Burton has said.
"The county has been working with the tax collector to jointly explore the acquisition of the building," County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said Tuesday when asked about the Cantolino property. "We'll know more details after the first of the year."
Cantolino's building features 60 offices and three public entrances, 148 parking spaces, 5.8 acres and additional land for a preapproved building in the future, according to his letter.
The building generates its own electricity with 300-watt photovoltaic cells on the roof, along with what Cantolino calls the state's first cantilevered solar-powered parking roof designed to withstand 150-mph winds.
"At least it's done right," said Cantolino, who fully renovated the decrepit building after he bought it last year.
Cantolino is listed as a director of a manufacturing company called VizCo US Inc., according to state records.
A second facility would be "like an adjunct" to the current tax collector's office at 820 U.S. 301 Blvd. W., Burton has said.
Combined with renewals and complexities associated with new proofs of identification required of those seeking licenses, Burton predicted his office would have difficulty meeting demand at his current office in the next couple of years.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.