Previous Coverage | Bradenton Prep plans expansion despite problems

Bradenton Preparatory Academy is forging ahead with expansion plans despite facing myriad financial problems, including the threat of losing its campus to foreclosure.

The private school recently submitted plans to Manatee County for a new gymnasium, a new arts building and two more tennis courts, county records show.

According to the plans, the new facilities would be built in three phases through 2015. First would be two new clay tennis courts next to eight existing hard courts on school grounds, with construction anticipated to begin in September.

The second phase would be a 13,500-square-foot arts facility in the center of the 11-acre campus, followed by the 14,000-square-foot gym on the campus’ north side.

The proposed improvements are part of a broader expansion plan, Bradenton Prep’s attorney said Wednesday.

“This is part of an incremental program to expand the offerings at the school once the financial problems are resolved,” Edward Vogler II said.

Those financial problems include:

n Two lenders are seeking to foreclose on the campus at 7900 40th Ave. W., contending school owner The Children’s Place Inc. defaulted on more than $5.7 million in loans.

n The Internal Revenue Service has filed four tax liens, contending the school has not paid more than $1.12 million in payroll taxes since 2007.

n Teachers say they have not been paid, including paychecks that have bounced.

Vogler said the school continues to work with its creditors and expects to soon put its financial problems behind it.

“Our plan is to get these issues resolved by the end of April,” he said. “A lot of it depends on third parties.”

The school’s financial recovery plan largely hinges on monetary infusions from Hendrik Lamprecht, a South African businessman who reportedly has purchased a majority ownership stake in the school. The school has refused to divulge more information.

The new courts and gym will help United Tennis Academy, which has been using Bradenton Prep’s courts since early 2009, expand beyond its current 32 full-time students, co-owner Jeff Russell said.

“It’s very important for us,” he said.

The school’s plans will require public hearings in front of the county’s planning board and county commissioners before they can be approved, county planners said. No timetable was given.

Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.

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