Despite refusing to change the design of the store to better fit into the neighborhood’s architectural character — as requested by the Bradenton City Council — Dunkin’ Donuts on Wednesday received the final green light to move forward with construction.
Construction could start as early as July on the corner of Manatee Avenue East and 14th Street East, near the Preserve at Riverwalk apartment complex. Construction of Phase 2 of the Preserve is expected to begin soon after delays involving the Florida Department of Transportation were resolved.
The new store will sit on the northeast corner of the apartment complex fronting Manatee Avenue but with a one way in and one way out access point on 14th Street East.
The council had already bucked a staff recommendations in changing the zoning for the property last month to allow the restaurant to be constructed, but officials wanted developers to come back with changes to the aesthetics.
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Planning and Community Development Director Catherine Hartley opposed the project over concerns that rezoning the parcel would leave it open for unwanted purposes in the future, but officials are banking on the Dunkin’ Donuts being successful for the long term.
Hartley was also concerned about the proximity of the site being so close to the Curry National Register Historic Diistrict just to the north.
Still, the council did want a different design but didn’t get it.
“There’s that one side of me where I didn’t expect it to look like a Dunkn’ Donuts and it looks like a Dunkin’ Donuts,” said Ward 5 Councilman Harold Byrd Jr. “I was hoping for more, to find somewhere in the middle. Is there anything we can look at to make it more appealing?”
Ed Vogler, the attorney for the developer that includes ZNS Engineering, Atlanta-based Hatfield Development and NDC Construction, said the chain did not want to budge on the design of the building.
So instead, the team came back with new landscaping plans that include a gazebo and picnic benches. The plan wowed — for the most part — the city council.
“The landscaping plan weighed heavy on my opinion of this project,” said Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff. “I like the site plan. Normally though, in a downtown setting, the idea of a gazebo and picnic benches gives me the heebie jeebies because someone will be there all day. But this will be private property so if someone tries to live there, you can ask them to leave?”
The developers said yes and committed to enrolling into the Bradenton Police Department’s trespass program, which authorizes officers to trespass individuals from commercial property.
Vogler said the new store will be a prototype of the national chain’s new branding after they decided to change its name to only Dunkin’.
Rachel Layton, ZNS Engineering planner, said the addition of the gazebo and picnic area is unique to what Dunkin’ normally does, but the company wanted to accommodate the city’s concerns with the extra amenities and enhanced landscaping.
“The property is owned by Dunkin’ but will appear to be an extension of the Mineral Springs Park to promote the city’s desire for connectivity,” Layton said. “The foundation landscaping will enhance the look of the building so we are trying to blend some of the requirements that are there in the neighborhood already.”
The approximately 1 acre of now vacant land was originally slated to be part of the Preserve complex, but for mixed-use residential and retail. The developer reserved the right to build only residential if no commercial interest came forward after three years from when the development agreement was signed in 2014.