BRADENTON -- A new apartment complex, complete with an in-house restaurant, could rise from the vacant lot on 14th Street West, where once stood the crime-ridden Manatee Inns.
Beneficial Communities, based in Sarasota, was selected by a Bradenton Downtown Development Authority ranking committee to present a more detailed proposal to develop the site at 1404 14th St. W.
The committee met Monday to review four development proposals to get a general idea of a possible sale price and a better idea of how the property might be developed. The DDA purchased the hotel, which had become an eyesore, for $1.8 million at the peak of the real estate boom in 2006 and then had it demolished.
Beneficial's purchase proposal was for the most money, at $600,000. The 3.3 acres is appraised at $438,500 and most of the other proposals only came near the appraisal price. The DDA still owes $617,000 on the property.
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Committee member Ben Bakker, a Realtor, said there were a lot of positives to the proposal. He said the apartments combined with an eatery of some kind would provide millennials a downtown living environment "where they can just walk downstairs and get a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza."
The property on June 24 is expected to become part of the Village of the Arts if the city council approves expanding the village's boundaries to 14th Street West.
Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham said Beneficial paid attention to the request for qualifications the DDA released in April.
"They talked a lot about integrating with the village tapestry plan, placemaking and community spaces," she said.
DDA Vice Chairwoman Jayne Kocher and chair of the ranking committee said Beneficial presented a mixed elevation to the front of the complex, indicating that the design would be more in line with the village rather "than just a building that looks like a big box."
Bradenton City Council member Patrick Roff favored a proposal from Gorman and Company. While other members felt Gorman's proposal was "cut and paste" and presented without a lot of effort, Roff said it was because Gorman was given a hard time the last time the city tried to develop the property in 2008. Roff said the company put together a good proposal but was not treated well through the process.
"It was embarrassing," he said, while noting that it may be why Gorman's proposal was fairly vague this time.
Gorman did receive three votes for second and if Beneficial cannot satisfy further questions and concerns at a June 29 meeting, the committee can move down the ranking list to continue discussions with Gorman, which has offices in Miami.
KJC, a consortium of several local companies, was ranked third; and Gulf Coast Housing Partnership out of New Orleans did not receive enough votes to make the top three.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.