Waterfront Bradenton condo plans continue to stall

BRADENTON -- In July 2007, the developers of a six-story luxury condominium along the waterfront in the Point Pleasant neighborhood promised to begin construction within a few weeks.

Fast forward five years and weeds are the only high-rise that occupy the 2.5 acre vacant lot near downtown Bradenton. The sign advertising unbuilt luxury condos still stands on the barren lot.

A controversial project formerly dubbed the Residences at Point Pleasant has fallen victim to the Great Recession, and like many similar real estate ventures, plans for the condos have failed to recover.

But in what has become another sign of the times, some of the 55 surrounding homeowners who once actively fought the development now are eager to see a responsible project come in -- tired of the overgrown property and the wildlife that inhabits it.

"It's turned into a wildlife sanctuary, overrun by raccoons," said Dick Stagner, who lives directly adjacent to the site. "Little groups of people go there to check it out every now and then but nothing ever happens. Something that fits into the neighborhood like townhomes would be much better than what is today -- nothing."

Backers of the project once pitched plans for a six-story building with 34 units ranging from 1,800 square feet to more than 3,900 square feet, with prices upwards of $3 million.

The developer previously said seven units would need to be sold to begin construction. That was in 2007.

Instead the only progress made on the site has been a small gazebo, built several years ago to show-off the view of Ware's Creek to potential buyers.

"We were hired in 2008 to design and get the project energized," said Mike Carter, the project contractor. "We completed the design and had approval by the city, but they never could generate the pre-sales required."

The project drew major opposition when first announced in 2005 from neighbors who feared it would disrupt their quaint deed-restricted community, which is home to some of the oldest houses in Manatee.

The Point Pleasant neighborhood is between Man

atee Avenue West and the Manatee River, with Wares Creek serving as the western border.

Realtors representing the owner now are willing to at least hear just about any offer that comes through the door -- whether the buyer is interested in just the land, single-family homes or a build-to-suit scaled back version of its original concept.

"It was all hot to go before the crash," said Gerald Cunningham, the listing agent with Wagner Realty. "But the market is getting better, and I still think we're going to be able to do something there."

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman.