An invitation to bid released by the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency for acreage at 13th Avenue West and First Street is already receiving some interest and a deadline for developers to submit their letters of interest has been set for July 7.
The property was to become a Save-A-Lot grocery store and retail plaza honoring the late Minnie L. Rogers, a community organizer and activist. Since 2006, the CCRA envisioned the site as a grocery store to serve a community within a food desert, but that will no longer be a requirement.
The CCRA and city officials worked to try to make the project happen, but Wisconsin-based Endeavor Corp., which secured the development rights in 2012 , never followed through with the project. The project collapsed in January.
As the process moves forward to find a potential new developer for what could be an entirely new development proposal, the city is looking into how this particular piece of property became such an issue for the previous developer.
City administrator Carl Callahan is meeting with public works to determine the potential impediments that appear to make the property difficult to develop.
My only concern is that we enhance this property and then fall back and force something specific on that property that may not be what the market drives.
Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith
Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith said he didn’t have a problem investing city resources into the property “to figure out our options to maximize our return. ... My only concern is that we enhance this property and then fall back and force something very specific on that property that may not be what the market drives.”
The invitation to bid does not restrict developers from submitting different development ideas. CCRA manager Jesus Nino said the invitation was sent “to people with proven records.”
Nino said a commercial developer is already looking at the property, but he would not elaborate further.
Minnie L. Rogers Plaza timeline 2006: CCRA holds community meetings encouraging the grocery store. 2012: Endeavor Corp. secures $6 million in federal tax credits. 2012: A Minnie L. Rogers Plaza plaque is created in anticipation of the new plaza. 2012: The city holds a groundbreaking ceremony. 2013: CCRA agrees to several developer stipulations including loans and becoming the master lease holder of the plaza. 2014: The city council signs off on a deed valued at $750,000 to be given to the CCRA, which in turn would give the land to the developer. 2015: Endeavor says project is “shovel ready” as it gains a partner that secures $1.5 million in additional state tax credits, something Endeavor said was critical to moving forward. 2015: Endeavor balks once again, returns to the city asking for more money. City rejects demand. 2016: Project collapses and city cites Endeavor to be in breach of contract. Process takes months to get the property back from Endeavor.
Ward 5 Councilman Harold Byrd Jr. said he supports building a grocery story, but he added he wants the best development opportunity for the community.
“I didn’t object to the grocery story, but when we said we were going to put this out there for anything, I’m right there with it,” he said. “We want to look at developing this property right now and I don’t see anything in the invitation that limits us in any way shape or form.”
Depending on the level of interest, Callahan said it’s not out of the realm of possibility to take the property to a national Realtor.
“I caution people that this is still a tough development,” said Callahan. “But we want to do everything we can to get ahead of any issues to make this a more easy development.”