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Bradenton agrees to advance $800,000 for Manatee Players new construction

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton City Council agreed Wednesday to advance $800,000 for the construction of the new Manatee Players facility in downtown Bradenton.

The council's "agreement in principle" calls for $800,000 in loans to be advanced from the $1.1 million pledge made in June by the Kiwanis Foundation and The Kiwanis Club of Bradenton for the construction of the new performing center.

"We think this is a good opportunity to facilitate all the things that are going on," said Carl Callahan, city clerk and treasurer. "This is a way we can step up and help."

Respective attorneys are working on finalizing an agreement for the council's approval, Callahan said. The city is using cash reserves to provide the loans, he said.

The advance consists of a $500,000 loan to the Kiwanis Foundation which will advance their pledged commitment. The Kiwanis Foundation will pay the city back with $50,000 a year for 10 years. The interest rate on that loan is still to be determined, according to the agreement memorandum.

The Kiwanis Club has agreed to give the Manatee Players $300,000 from the sale of their 14th Street building. Under the new agreement, the city is advancing those $300,000. That loan is for three years.

Janene Witham, executive director of Manatee Players, said that in June the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton issued a letter of intent to help fund the construction of the venue's second floor. The club approached the city for help in expediting those funds, she said.

"This is huge not only for our community but for Manatee Players as an organization," Witham said. "The Manatee Players looks forward to a long-term partnership with Kiwanis."

The Manatee Players still need an additional $900,000 for the construction which they hope to complete by March 2013.

"When we are all set and done and all the programs are online, it will be a $15 million project," Witham said.

The $1.1 million commitment is definite though the sources of funding from within the club may change, Witham said.

The council also agreed to extend its existing $2.8 million loan to the Players to a 21-year loan, with an interest rate of 3.09 percent.

Councilman Patrick Roff said it is important to note that the city has been supportive of the Manatee Players and their efforts to build a new venue near the Manatee River.

"We are doing the lion's share," he said.