I have followed, with interest, the proposal for a new parking garage which may be constructed on site of the current City Hall parking lot. I am a downtown business and property owner, and I follow the growth of downtown Bradenton passionately.
I do believe a parking garage at the City Hall parking lot is in the best interests of the citizens of Bradenton. I would, however, urge the City Council to build a structure that ensures the potential growth of Old Main Street. We have made great strides in the revitalization of this street.
Old Main Street is a unique street, and it galvanizes many of the things going on in downtown Bradenton, not only on the weekdays, but also on the weekends. It has become a destination for people who live in the surrounding areas as well as from afar.
I would urge the city to build a garage that has spaces for retail shops, cafes, and restaurants on the ground floor, and possibly even some apartments on the second floor. I have seen this done successfully in other communities. Maintaining the uniqueness and coziness of Old Main Street northward toward the Pier is important.
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I realize it will cost more money to build a garage that has a portion of the ground floor dedicated to retail, and I know that the management/sale or leasing of the spaces can be challenging, but it can be done — and done successfully.
If the city were to build a parking garage on the area which fronts Old Main Street and not incorporate these kinds of amenities, it will be an opportunity lost for many generations to come. I would urge the City Council members to consider building a structure which will serve the community for decades into the future.