BRADENTON -- What was once a 14th Street West landmark may become affordable housing for families.
That’s the hope of the Salvation Army, which purchased the two-building, 5,000-square-foot complex that was the site of Chandler’s Classic Cars for nearly 40 years at 1308 14th St. W.
Pod-style housing for 18 to 24 families would be built on the adjacent property, pending city approval, according to Salvation Army Major Ethan Frizzell.
It would enable the Salvation Army to refashion its current family shelter into a women’s shelter for 24 women, something it doesn’t have now. The existing men’s shelter has 105 beds, plus floor space for 50.
“This has been a recurring vision for the past five to seven years, and now we have the property to help make it a reality,” said Frizzell. “Manatee County does not have adequate family or women’s sheltering and our goal is to continue to instigate the community conversation around a continuum of housing for men, women and families by allowing for a market-based solution.”
The Salvation Army purchased the site for $350,000 from the Chandler family, and has been using the buildings to store food for its pantry.
Frizzell would not set a target date for the project.
Board member Ed Dick said he anticipates the plan to go forward.
“We’re extremely positive,” he said. “We need this facility. We’re desperate for a place for women.”
The urgency doesn’t stop there, Frizzell said.
“There is a gap right now between the shelters and housing market that’s too wide for many of the people we serve -- veterans, disabled, working poor, who can’t afford the $700 to $800 efficiency around the corner, but could afford $300 a month,” he said. “We hope with community support we can decrease that gap.”
Support that might be reluctant in some corners, Frizzell predicted.
“The business community is cautious whether we can make an economic incubator instead of an economic drain and that’s fair,” he said. “Environmentally, we must be in line with the city’s vision for the 14th Street corridor. I believe we can help lead in that, designing a building that reflects what they want.”
Mayor Wayne Poston was noncommittal.
“We’ll wait until we see what their proposal is and then make a call,” he said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Follow him on Twitter @vinmannix.