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Bradenton Downtown County Coughs up 25 Parking Places to Close Pink Palace Deal


BRADENTON -- Though the City of Bradenton is on the hook for most of the incentives to redevelop the former Manatee River Hotel, developers said that 25 parking places in the county administration building were the final piece to make the project doable. After some debate, the long-term lease was approved and construction is expected to start this summer.

photo by Craig Jorgensen

Widewaters Director of Development, Brian Long, and David Gustafson, Executive Director of Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, presented the options to Manatee County BOCC Tuesday. The stumbling stone to the deal was a 50-year lease for the county's spaces.

A 50-year lease can be a dangerous place to go, but developers said the spots were needed in order to secure funding. The deal actually has two ten year re-ups, making it 70 years, if things continue to go well through the first 50. 

Parking was always a deal breaker and many plans were discussed throughout Widewaters conversations and then negotiations with the DDA and City of Bradenton. Without outside space, up or down was the only place to go and developers said that would have meant a demolition and new structure. Commissioner Joe McClash struggled with the deal, dead set against signing on for five decades.

The veteran commissioner believed that for what the final price will end up being, a new, historical-looking replacement could have likely been built, allowing the parking to be atop or under the structure. Widewaters's Long said, "If that building is torn down, another hotel would never be built." He added, "Today, it would cost far too much."

In the end, it was straight forward: secure the parking or shop elsewhere. It wasn't pretty, but the hotel is promised to be. Widewaters will get the spots and have now secured the needed 125 parking spaces. The facility will house a pool, but no restaurant. It will have 115 rooms, king and queen suites, some which will feature kitchenettes. The hotel is hoped to generate an annual $2.5 million in economic activity for surrounding businesses.

The vote to go forward with the lease was approved, 6 to 1, McClash dissenting.


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