Downtown Bradenton could be looking at a construction perfect storm

A $12 million expansion of the South Florida Museum is about a year away from reality, as several construction projects get ready to move forward in downtown Bradenton.
A $12 million expansion of the South Florida Museum is about a year away from reality, as several construction projects get ready to move forward in downtown Bradenton. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Several major projects could begin around the same time in the next year or so, creating a perfect storm of construction for the downtown Bradenton area.

As the projects could turn the downtown core into a construction zone, officials are looking at organizing staging areas to ensure downtown businesses won’t be affected, said Bradenton Downtown Development Authority member Jayne Kocher.

“I’m glad we are going to be sensitive to downtown business owners,” Kocher said. “I’ve seen in other areas where cities did not think about business owners and those businesses couldn’t sustain through that much construction.”

A detailed plan to lessen impact on the downtown has not been discussed, but officials say it is the goal as construction start dates near.

Downtown projects moving forward

The city of Bradenton has a $650,000 purchase agreement with North Star Lodging and Development for property directly west from city hall, once home to the old Manatee Players theater. A Spring Hill Suites hotel will be built on the site.

The project has been slightly modified from nine stories to seven. It still includes amenities such as a pool, restaurant and outside tiki bar.

Developers hope to break ground on the $17 million project by the end of the year.

In conjunction with the new Spring Hill Suites, a new parking garage “will likely move forward,” to be built on the southwest corner of the city hall parking lot, according to city administrator Carl Callahan.

The city has pledged 100 spaces for the new hotel as part of the development agreement. To meet the needs of future parking, officials agree that a garage is the best approach.

As part of the construction, the remainder of the city hall parking lot will likely be redone and all parking meters will be removed in favor of automated parking machines like those in the existing public garages.

Villages at Riverwalk

The $17 million Villages at Riverwalk 521-unit all-rental housing development in the 1000 block of Manatee Avenue West has been held up by a lawsuit over the relocation of Glazier-Gates Park.

A judge threw out the lawsuit in May, but an appeal was filed in June, potentially delaying the project further.

Twin Dolphin Marina

With more than $1 million in federal and state grants secured, and plans to infuse the Twin Dolphin Marina with an additional $3.5 million of private funds, major renovations and expansion plans are almost ready to proceed.

Callahan said the only delay is ensuring all of the associated grant documents are in order, potentially putting the start of construction within weeks.

The scope of work includes reconfiguring the eastern part of the marina with 129 new slips, of which most will accommodate larger vessels from 50 feet up to 105 feet in length. Construction could take about nine months.

The city-owned marina is privately run and the associated Pier 22 restaurant recently completed a $400,000 interior renovation.

South Florida Museum

The $12 million expansion of the South Florida Museum is about a year away from reality.

Being hailed as a “museum of the future” project, work on the new campus will focus on innovative and technological advances in creating new spaces for new exhibitions.

The project is designed to connect the museum more deeply to the community and Gulf Coast region, including a new hands-on learning center focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Estimated groundbreaking is in June 2017.

Village Lofts

The proposed $15 million redevelopment of the old Manatee Inns hotel site in the 1400 block of 14th Street West is the only project in the downtown core that remains questionable because of questions about its financing.

Developers failed to secure needed tax credits, but were granted an extension to try again in April.

Developers should find out later this year if they were successful and construction could fall in line with the coming boom, if successful. Developers also are pursuing alternative funding, which could be resolved this summer.