Tentative parking deal reached for new downtown Bradenton hotel

BRADENTON -- A tentative parking agreement has been reached between Manatee County and developers planning to build a new hotel at the site of the historic "Pink Palace" in downtown Bradenton, county and city officials said Thursday.

"This is a huge step in the right direction," said David Gustafson, executive director of Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority. "This shows how serious the county is in partnering with the city. We are very proud and honored that this is moving forward."

The developer, Widewaters Bradenton LLC, declined to comment, since the deal is not yet final.

Securing about 30 more parking spaces was the last element needed to start construction at 309 10th St. W., Gustafson said. That brings the total secured parking spaces to what the hotel needs: 120.

The county commission will vote on the deal within a few weeks, said Cheri Coryea, director of neighborhood services for Manatee County.

"This certainly means there's hope for the downtown area," Coryea said. "We are looking forward to seeing the area developed as much as they are."

The parking lot, at the southwest corner of 10th Street West and Fourth Avenue West, is used now by a few county employees who will be able to park in other available garages, Coryea said. County representatives have spoken with them.

"Economic development is a primary focus for Manatee County throughout the county, and working with downtown is very beneficial to everyone," she said.

The county's attorney and

Widewaters took time negotiating the lease because of its "long-term impact," Coryea said.

The planned construction site is at the former Manatee River Hotel, popularly known as the "Pink Palace."

The new Hampton Inn & Suites would retain some of the historic aspects of the 1925 building, Gustafson said. The first floor and the four exterior sides would still evoke the hotel's historical qualities, he said.

Officials expect that 40,000 to 50,000 guests would stay at the hotel each year.

"The local businesses are so excited knowing that this will be another opportunity to have visitors come to their businesses," said Gustafson.

He said the hotel would not have its own restaurant, something that would encourage visitors to go out and spend money at local restaurants and stores.

Gustafson estimates the project would generate $2.5 million a year.

The $15 million to $17 million project would create about 100 construction jobs, he said. Construction is expected to start in mid to late summer and be completed within a year.

"It's very exciting, this will remind the development community and residents that we are serious about doing business in the downtown area," Gustafson said. "And that we don't have to sell our souls to get projects like these accomplished. Everyone wins in the long run."

Miriam Valverde, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow on Twitter @MiriamValverde.