Special Reports

Hotel and retail building on tap

EAST MANATEE - Several new hotel and retail buildings will soon be built in East Manatee, bringing more options for shoppers and visitors.

Land development applications were recently submitted to Manatee County planners for two projects along University Parkway, one to expand an existing Wal-Mart at Lockwood Ridge Road and the other to add 49,500 square feet of retail and a 102-room hotel at University Center.

The hotel at University is located just west of Interstate 75. Just one exit north on I-75, a second hotel - a 78-room Wingate Inn - is proposed for Creekwood East Corporate Park on State Road 70.

In addition to the Wingate Inn, which is being developed by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, a 6,000- to 8,000-square-foot restaurant also is planned next door to the hotel, said Michael Sporer of Interstate Commercial Brokers.

Creekwood East Corporate Park is expected to bring about 500,000 square feet of industrial space to the area. Hurricane Medical is one company moving into a 9,000-square-foot facility in June, the Bradenton Herald previously reported. Also expected to have offices in the park are Interstate Commercial Brokers, Kennedy General Contracting, Fred B. LaDue & Associates and Mark E. Cahill Homes.

"It looks like a great project for that side of the freeway," Sporer said.

Norm Luppino, Manatee County planner for the University Center project, said the new hotel will be a four-story building.

Two other buildings also are included. One is a 9,000-square-foot building that will be near WestPoint Stevens Factory Outlet in an existing parking lot and the other, a 40,000-square-foot facility south of Lenox Factory Outlet, which will back up to the overhead power lines on the Florida Power & Light easement.

The appearance of the buildings was closely studied during the approval process, and the developers will have to show that the loading service areas and dumpsters are not visible from University Parkway and Interstate 75, Luppino said.

"We don't want the backs of stores and the junkiness of the building showing," he said. "We're trying to convey a positive image of Manatee County to the traveling public."

The Wal-Mart proposal calls for demolishing part of the shopping center on Lockwood Ridge Road to make room for a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Wal-Mart's square footage, including the garden center, will grow about 43,000 square feet.

Michelle Azel, senior manager of public affairs for Wal-Mart Stores, said she does not know which shops will be taken out for the expansion, but the owner of the shopping center is working to relocate the businesses.

A free-standing Walgreens also is coming soon, Azel said.

Jessica Klipa, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7906, or at jklipa@bradenton.com.