MANATEE -- A proposed affordable housing project converting an existing motel into efficiency apartments moved a step forward Tuesday.
Manatee County Commission unanimously supported the process to begin for a county-initiated comprehensive plan amendment to change the zoning of the Knights Inn, 2303 First St., Bradenton, to retail/office/residential from light industrial zoning. The amendment would have to come before the commission in a public hearing for final approval.
"This would be the first step," said Chairwoman Betsy Benac during commissioner comments. "This will be a real show of support for it."
Harvey Vengroff, a wealthy Sarasota County businessman who has transformed several motels in Sarasota County into affordable housing, wants to redevelop the Knights Inn into furnished apartments with water, electricity and cable for $600 a month.
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Commissioner Robin DiSabatino and Leslie Loveless, executive director of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, met with Vengroff earlier this year about converting a Manatee County motel.
"We need affordable housing desperately in Manatee County," DiSabatino said in October. "I was just so thrilled that he's picking up the ball and running with it. We just need more people like him who have the passion and dedication to make this all happen."
Vengroff has previously told the Bradenton Herald he plans to purchase the Knights Inn near the intersection of U.S. 301 and U.S. 41 for $4.4 million. Vengroff estimated renovations at the 220-room property to cost about $1.5 million.
"We will convert that to studio apartments for those people that need a roof over their head," Vengroff said in October. "It's really a neat thing to make an investment that's a good quality investment as well as have a very good return on it."
The commission also:
Approved increasing the contract for the Cortez groins removal and replacement project by $451,634 for widening the central and south permeable adjustable groins. Charlie Hunsicker, Parks and Natural Resources Department director, said the project remains within its $5 million budget even with the addition. The project is now expected to be finished in mid-March, according to Hunsicker.
Confirmed the appointments of 13 members to serve on the recently formed Citizens Financial Structure Advisory Board, which will make recommendations to the county commission "regarding matters related to the best combination of available revenue sources to fund county services, programs and capital projects," according to agenda materials.
Named David Simpson, a transit operator on the Oneco route, the 2015 Employee of the Year.
Approved a resolution clarifying the process used when a member of a county advisory board or commission becomes disqualified to hold the office. The resolution states no notification will be made until the commission chair "has been afforded the opportunity to understand the related facts and to personally inform the member."
Reappointed Hugh D. Miller to the Housing Finance Authority of Manatee County. Miller's term lasts until Oct. 31, 2019.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.