WCI Communities offered the least density in $10M Evers Reservoir deal
BRADENTON -- Of three finalists offering more than $10 million to purchase 200 acres next to the Bill Evers Reservoir in East Manatee County, the Bradenton City Council voted 4-1 on Wednesday to begin negotiations with WCI Communities of Bradenton.
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Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo voted against starting negotiations without adding language to guarantee the city purchase price.
"I had time to think about our last workshop, and the things we've been hearing leads me to believe that we are leaving money on the table," said Gallo.
Gallo said he wanted a guarantee the city would receive no less than $12 million from any developer chosen.
"I think part of the negotiations should be the property is worth more money," he said. "They have the right to say they are willing to pay or we'll go on to the next one."
Council members heard proposals from the top three developers last week.
WCI was the middle bidder at $10.5 million, but also offered the least density with no more than 350 units. The company will pay an additional $30,000 per unit to the city if it exceeds the agreed-upon density.
The other two developer proposals projected more than 500 units.
Smith said since financial offers were similar, it makes sense to choose the lower density considering the property's proximity to the reservoir.
Smith and the other council members said they were uncomfortable with Gallo's request to put a financial guarantee in the motion, noting the vote was simply to begin negotiations.
"One of our great values is our credibility," said Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff. "I don't want to be letting it known that the city council makes deals and then ups the ante."
The motion passed without Gallo's language.
The reservoir is already developed on three sides. Citizens have expressed concerns a new development could harm the city water supply, but officials say that's not the case.
Public Works Director Claude Tankersley said the city would not use outdated water storage technology such as expanding the reservoir to accommodate future needs. Tankersley said investing in aquifer storage recovery wells would save the city money. Tankersley said an ASR well costs about $9,000 per million gallons while the reservoir costs about $37,000 per million gallons.
There also is no water loss with ASR wells, while the reservoir loses 167 million gallons of water a year from evaporation., which does not include water releases into the Braden River during heavy rains.
The city will not need to address excess water demand for decades, because "the ultimate buildout for Bradenton's boundaries is 73,700 people and the most likely population in 40 years is 66,000," said Tankersley. "Total water storage supply needed for 73,700 people is 2 billion gallons. The existing capacity of the Evers Reservoir is 1.4 billion gallons."
Tankersley said 600 million gallons of water would need to be added to the system if the population somehow reached its maximum. The city has one operating ASR well for drinking water and plans to build two more to allow storage of 700 million gallons to exceed the demands of a maximum city buildout.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.