Bradenton Downtown Development Authority to seek proposals to redevelop old motel site on 14th Street West

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority is renewing its effort to redevelop the site of a demolished motel on 14th Street West.

DDA officials Tuesday said they want to revive a 2008 request for proposal dropped during the economic downturn.

Ward 4 City Councilman Bemis Smith said 2008 was a bad time to sell 3.3 acres at 1405 14th St. W., once home to the troubled Manatee Inns motel, which was plagued by drugs, prostitution and crime.

The site was purchased by the DDA more than a decade ago for twice what it is worth now and is now a vacant lot after the motel was torn down around 2006.

Ideally, officials said they would like to see a mixed-use development with residential, retail and restaurants.

"We didn't see the need to take a hit at the lowest point of the market," said Smith, who noted it is a key location with potential to spur surrounding redevelopment. "So why not hold onto it to the point where we are today, where the market environment will bring in more money, and have that other private development that this should spur?" he asked.

According to the Manatee County Property Appraiser's Office, the property is now worth more than $438,500, up 38 percent from $317,000 in 2013.

Kerry Ward, DDA board member and lead member of the Village of the Arts Tapestry Task Force, which envisions and pursues village improvements and expansion, said the DDA should look for a quality proposal that benefits downtown and Village of the Arts and consider how it may affect future development.

Ward, addressing the DDA board at a workshop Tuesday at the Station 2 Innovation Center, said the village task force wants to "move off of dead center and get something happening with this."

The task force approached public works director Claude Tankersley and Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham to rework the 2008 RFP. Tankersley asked whether the DDA was seeking to partner with a developer or list required uses.

Board member Mike Carter said to designate "desired" uses included in the RFP ranking system. Board member Jason Bartz agreed, saying a potential developer may have a better idea than the board would require in any list of uses.

"It will give the developer more freedom to discuss their ideas," said Bartz. "In the end, we aren't obligated to move forward with anything."

The DDA also owns 1.5 acres across the street, which has been a temporary Bradenton Police Department substation. That land will be listed as a consideration on the RFP for any developer with a project in need of extra space.

Ward said a final draft of the RFP will be ready at the board's regular March 24 meeting. He added he hopes to complete the RFP process within 60 days.

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.