BRADENTON -- Lake Flores, a proposed 1,322-acre mixed-use community in West Bradenton, is really designed to embrace Bradenton, Whiting Preston said Friday.
The Manatee Fruit Co. president spoke to the Women of Manatee County Republican Club about the proposed West Bradenton community, which as proposed features 6,500 residences, about 1 million square feet of retail space, 2 million square feet
of office space and 500 hotel rooms.
"What we are really trying to do in essence is give a sense of place and create identity for West Bradenton," Preston said at the luncheon at Renaissance on 9th. "We want people to understand what we are trying to propose here. We want to have that direct connection. This is a different project. It is different because it is a different way to think about development."
Preston said they are working with the county and staff to respond to concerns and complete studies before public hearings at Planning Commission and county commission meetings. The dates for the hearings have not been set. County commission chairwoman Betsy Benac and commissioners Larry Bustle and John Chappie attended the luncheon.
Marianne Barneby, first vice president of the Women of Manatee County Republican Club, said members asked whether they could have Preston come talk about Lake Flores.
"There has been a lot of interest in this proposed project," she said. "This is just another opportunity for Mr. Preston to share his proposal. ... This meeting is more a public service than a rally for Republicans."
Preston said he has made the presentation, which has changed over the years, about 10 times to different groups in the community.
"We are really trying to get reaction from the community, share goals and objectives and hear concerns," Preston said.
The development would transform West Bradenton from empty fields to a multi-use community over the next 10 to 20 years. The community would stretch from IMG Academy west to beyond 75th Street West between Cortez Road and El Conquistador Parkway. Celebration, near Disney World, is a similar community, Preston said.
When built out, Lake Flores would generate $1.961 billion in new real estate value and $16.9 million in an ad valorem tax revenue every year, Preston said. He predicted the project would have a net positive fiscal impact of $10.9 million and will create 11,000 jobs on-site alone.
"This is a project that pays for itself," he said. "We think we will have an impact outside Lake Flores. ... This is a sustaining project."
While there will be a light or two needed on Cortez Road, Preston said they are proposing more roundabouts than lights.
"Traffic flow is really important for us with this project," he said.
Manatee County School Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner asked about whether land was set aside for schools. Preston said they are estimating at least 1,500 students with the development.
"I think it is going to be a wonderful addition to the community in Manatee County," Miner said.
For more information about the development, go to bradentonsfuture.com.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.com.