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Old Main to get facelift

BRADENTON — The planned facade renovation of two buildings on Old Main Street was exciting news for some business owners.

“It’s wonderful news,” said Jackie Erb, owner of Robin’s Downtown restaurant.

“It’s going to look great and attract more people,” Erb said. “It’s definitely good for downtown.”

Joe McDonald, owner of Fisherman Joe’s restaurant in the second unit, agreed.

“The work will give the buildings a new look,” McDonald said, “and people like that.”

John DeLesline Jr., of DeLesline Construction, owner of the two buildings on the west side of Old Main Street, starting at the alleyway north of Manatee Avenue West, said he planned to do the renovations last year.

“We have 100 percent rented,” DeLesline said, “but we just thought it would be nice to upgrade them.”

B’Towne Coffee Company, Fisherman Joe’s, Gulf Coast Legal Services, Robin’s Downtown and The Blue Parrot occupy the storefront units that run from 424 Old Main Street to 440 Old Main Street.

DeLesline said officials with the Downtown Development Authority approached him and suggested grant funding would be available if the renovations were more extensive.

He was presented with concept drawings the DDA had Fawley Bryant Architects produce.

“Our first impressions were that we liked it,” DeLesline said, “but we came up with additional ideas.” He hired John Ziemnicki, with World Design Inc., to develop the plans., which called for the removal of the aluminum sidewalk overhang, replacing it with canvas awnings over three of the end storefronts, and a redesigned overhang over the middle two.

The buildings will be repainted with coordinating colors; some windows will be replaced; new building ornaments, lighting and signs will be added; and the parapet wall over the Legal Services and Robin’s will be heightened.

One of the biggest aesthetic improvements will be removal of the wooden siding from the front of the Legal Services storefront and replacement with a painted stucco finish.

In his report to the Bradenton Architecture Review Board, Volker Reiss, compliance manager of the city code enforcement division, wrote the “structure has the appearance of a strip mall in a suburban environment. The new decorative features including the shutters will create a more urban look.”

The upgrade to the aesthetics of Old Main Street was important to Will Robinson, chairman of the DDA.

“This project represents a significant investment in our downtown core,” Robinson said. “Aesthetics I believe are important for Main Street to continue to be an attractive place for our citizens, guests and the property owner.”

The DDA will contribute $30,000 from its Building and Site Improvement Program toward the $110,000 project, said Mike Kennedy, director of the DDA.

The property owners also will receive about $50,00 in property tax rebates over an eight-year period.

“Grants are important to improve downtown,” Kennedy said. “They increase the tax base which allows more investment in downtown.”

He said he was particularly excited about the DeLesline project because it will improve the least attractive facades on Main Street.

The building in which Legal Services and Robins are located was constructed in 1909 as the Baer-Clifton Building, according to the Florida Site Records in Tallahassee. A small, two-story addition was constructed soon after to the north of that building.

The two-story building that B’Towne Coffee and Fisherman Joe’s occupies was constructed in 1910 as the Bradenton Publishing Company Building.