EAST MANATEE -- If 2014 was the year developers requested approvals for the construction of thousands of new homes in the Parrish area, 2015 should be a year for earth-moving and raising roofs, particularly along Moccasin Wallow Road and State Road 62.
"We think we will see a lot more of the same in 2015," Manatee County Planning Official John Osborne said.
"All of the projects approved in the boom years of the 2000s are waking up again. It's still snowing up north and people are still coming south," Osborne said.
More land that has traditionally been used for agriculture could come on the market for development as well.
John Falkner, Manatee County's largest private landowner, has been in talks with the county about the development of some of his land west of Foxbrook.
Developer Pat Neal is making a major investment in the North River area to satisfy the demand for new homes coming from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties, as well as new residents moving into the area from the north.
"Jobs are coming back in the Midwest. We had strong sales in November and December and we see a definite improvement in the economy," Neal said.
While fresh development is coming to Parrish, members of the Parrish Civic Association and the Parrish Arts Alliance will continue working to improve the historic central village, and seek to entice visitors with its unique attractions, such as the Florida Railroad Museum and Fort Hamer Park.
"I think 2015 will be a breakout year for Parrish," said Ben Jordan, president of the Parrish Civic Association.
"You'll have construction starting on the Fort Hamer Bridge and the widening of U.S. 301 North from Moccasin Wallow Road to County Road 675. I have been promised by a very prominent developer that in 2015 we will have a new, full-service sit-down restaurant," Jordan said.
Norma Kennedy, president of the Parrish Arts Council, said the council will be involved in the chili cook off, sponsored by the Parrish Civic Association.
In 2014, the chili cook off helped the Parrish Foundation award $30,000 in grants to local not-for-profits.
The arts council will be hosting another of its community concerts as it continues to work to make the community a tourist destination. Parrish already has a potent draw with the Florida Railroad Museum, which attracted 12,000 riders for its North Pole Express in December.
"We will be working together with the civic association to promote Parrish through various events throughout the coming year and want to grow in both in membership and sponsorships," Kennedy said.
In Myakka City, the community celebrated the 100th anniversary of its historic school house in 2014.
In 2015, Marilyn Coker, president of the Myakka City Historical Society, is hopeful that contractors can get busy with improvements to the school house.
The society has banked $50,000 in grants from the Mosaic Co., and is seeking a $50,000 match from the state. Should the grant be approved and remain intact during the legislative session, renovations could start in July, Coker said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.