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Downtown streetscaping project moving forward

The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority’s selection committee has begun to review potential candidates for a major streetscaping project between 11th and 13th streets west in the heart of downtown.
The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority’s selection committee has begun to review potential candidates for a major streetscaping project between 11th and 13th streets west in the heart of downtown.

Three companies submitted qualifications for planned downtown streetscaping improvements and all three will be invited to entertain questions on Tuesday morning from the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority’s selection committee.

The committee met Thursday to outline goals of the project and how the process will move forward. DDA board member Mike Carter said there is no need for full presentations based on materials already presented when the companies responded to the request for qualifications.

“I don’t want them taking up time of answering questions telling us all about themselves,” Carter said.

The companies have been notified about the overall, but vague, goals to provide a menu for potential new sidewalks, hard scape, landscape, lighting, wayfinding and public art opportunities, but those details will be finalized when a contractor is awarded the project. The selection committee will recommend who should win the contract to the city council, but Carter said the DDA would be intricately involved in negotiations and design, along with Realize Bradenton.

The boundaries of the project are somewhat defined between 10th Street West and 13th Street West, but Carter said that depending on the final budget, the project area could either expand or shrink as needed. Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham said the committee will initially seek what the companies know about using low-impact and low-maintenance materials.

“We want them to address functionality, (Americans with Disabilities Act), aesthetics and the RFQ even says something cool,” Isham said. “We want downtown to be a contemporary, inviting place for residents and visitors, while keeping its historical value.”

The Bradenton City Council, as the Community Redevelopment Agency, released the RFQ in January and the DDA first began discussions over the summer. DDA board member Mike Carter said then that it had been a long time since Old Main Street improvements had been done and the downtown was looking “old and tired.”

Officials would like the streetscaping to be the first of five major downtown projects set to begin. They include a $4.5 million renovation of Twin Dolphin Marina, the new $17 million Spring Hill Suites by Marriott across from city hall, an estimated $12 million expansion of the South Florida Museum and an estimated $8-$10 million parking garage.

The garage will be designed to compliment downtown, while the hotel and the museum expansion is expected to offer a more modern design. Carter said that’s just fine with him.

“It should be different,” he said. “Visitors should experience and know you are walking into a different sector of downtown.”

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