Could Palmetto lose hotel project? Developer indicates the project is ‘on a timeline’

If an incentive deal is not approved soon, the city of Palmetto could be at risk of losing a proposed hotel project long in the works.

A proposed project for the lot at 1550 U.S. 301 N. includes plans for a new hotel, restaurant and mini-storage facility. The vacant 7.5 acres was purchased by 301 North LLC in 2005 for $2.6 million.

City commissioners approved a re-zoning request for the land in April 2018.

City Planner Karla Owens said an Extended Stay America is currently planned for the lot.

However, the hotel may be taking their project elsewhere if the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Association board — which is made up of the city commissioners — doesn’t act quickly and approve a new, bigger incentive agreement, Rod Connelly, president of the site’s developer, Civix, told the CRA board.

“I think it makes a difference if we don’t get moving tonight,” Connelly said.

Attorneys for the developers are in contact with city attorney Mark Barnebey to hammer out the final details as soon as possible. But before the new agreement is signed, board members have to vote to approve it and Monday they asked to see a copy prior to taking any vote.

The need for a new agreement comes after developers asked for an amended incentive agreement of $2.5 million for the project that would be paid out over the life of the CRA, or through 2044.

The project itself, a 120-suite extended stay hotel, is estimated to cost $14 million.

In “red line” notes on the document to the CRA board, Barnebey indicated the increased request was due to a “misunderstanding in how the CRA incentive deal operates.”

Barnebey said they will have an agreement ready as soon as possible, but there are still a few adjustments he would like to see made to the deal. A special meeting was scheduled for Aug. 21 to allow the commissioners to vote on the final version of the agreement.

“We don’t want to lose this project,” said Commissioner Harold Smith, urging Barnebey to get the documents to the board as quickly as possible.

What’s holding up the paperwork is making sure there are contingencies in case grants and other funding don’t come through as planned.

Connelly told the board there were “time constraints” to getting the hotel project started, as the hotel group has been looking to pursue alternative sites along the Interstate 75 corridor.

“We’ve gone down the road with this hotel group and for whatever reason its taken this amount of energy and time to get to where we are,” Connelly said.

The original plan was for Connelly’s company to build the hotel. However the hotel company has since decided to buy a portion of the land at 1550 U.S. 301 N. and build the structure themselves. Though the deal came at a loss to Civix, Connelly said they were willing to do it because they wanted to see a hotel on the property.

“We have a project here that needs to get going and the hotel group indicates they need to go,” Connelly said. “I think everyone should put shoulder to the wheel now and get this done.”

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Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.