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Commissioners Approve $2.9 Million toward Potential Future Parking Garages

Funding approved included those for the purchase of conceptual designs for the proposed parking garage at Manatee Public Beach


BRADENTON — On Tuesday, Manatee County Commissioners approved a budget amendment that designated $2.925 million toward preliminary design services for three proposed parking garages, including the controversial Manatee Beach parking garage.

The measure appeared on Tuesday’s BOCC meeting agenda as part of a broader budget amendment resolution. The resolution was placed on the consent agenda. Budget resolutions appear on most regular meeting consent agendas as they are common financial “housekeeping” measures.

Employees from the county’s Property Management Department and Procurement Division stepped to the podium to answer commissioner questions about the budget amendment’s purpose after a commissioner requested that the item be “pulled” from the consent agenda.

Cary Knight, the Director of Property Management, told commissioners, “We will be bringing on an architectural firm to complete a pre-design criteria package.”

Knight said the completed criteria packages will be included in future RFQs (requests for quotes) that the county will advertise as it seeks opportunities for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that might help fund the projects.

Three garage projects in total were included in the budget amendment: one at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, one at Premier Sports Complex and Library, and one at the Manatee Public Beach.

Each of the three garages has not come up in a board meeting since they were last discussed during a BOCC work session meeting in August 2023.

In April 2024, the board approved the execution of an agreement with Sweet Sparkman Architects, Inc. for a design criteria package for the county’s downtown administrative building parking garage. That agreement was approved with a not-to-exceed amount of $1,876,448.52.

The adoption of Tuesday’s budget amendment resolution approved just over $2.9 million for the three additional parking garages’ design criteria packages, with $625,000 allocated to the convention center garage, $1.175 million allocated to the Premier Sports Campus garage, and $1.125 million allocated to the beach garage.

The board’s approval of the amendment also adjusted the FY24-28 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

While explaining his reason for pulling the item from consent, Commissioner George Kruse said, “I found it odd that this was coming up for discussion now, and two, that it was placed on consent. The parking garages were important enough that we previously had a full work session on it, but not enough to put it on an actual agenda now?”

Kruse said he requested the item be pulled not only for his own clarity but also to help provide clarity to the public, which has expressed interest in the future of the proposed parking garage projects—particularly the one proposed for Manatee Public Beach.

Kruse expressed concern that the board was being asked to approve a large amount of taxpayer funds toward preliminary design work without having held any additional public discussion since its work session last year. The commissioner questioned whether the measure was “fiscally conservative.”

Jake Erickson, the county’s purchasing official, told commissioners that Florida Statutes require the county to have a completed design criteria package for each garage project to solicit a Public-Private Partnership.

“We have to have a design criteria packet,” Erickson said. “That’s the basis for the solicitation itself. So this was the decision after the public-private partnership was identified as the way to go.”

County Administrator Charlie Bishop further explained that the design criteria packet would only provide “conceptual designs” for proposals and/or negotiations with business entities. Bishop shared that Elliot Falcione, Director of the Manatee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, believes strongly in the county's ability to enter into a public-private partnership for the parking garage projects.

“We have two very viable economic development drivers coming to Premier,” Bishop told commissioners Tuesday. “We feel those are going to drive this parking garage. This gives us the ability to conceptually design it and get the design-build criteria package out on the street, so we can speak to those experts that build garages and see if there is a need, or a want, for somebody to Public-Private Partnership with us.”

During the item’s discussion, Kruse said he felt the approval of funding for preliminary designs was the “cart before the horse” as staff had not yet researched the viability of any of the three garages being designed as pay-for-parking garages and that the county was unsure where the funding for the garages would come from if it were unable to secure private support for the projects. 

“This is $3 million of taxpayer money, and we have a lot of infrastructure needs in Manatee County,” Kruse added. “We’re trying to take good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

The measure was ultimately passed unanimously in a 6-0 vote, with the District 1 commission seat being vacant. 

Click the video below to replay the board discussion and information provided by staff on the preliminary design purchase for parking garages at Premier, Manatee Beach, and the convention center.


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  • nellmcphillips

    Great work BOCC. More parking is another reason to create more traffic that the BOCC continues to ignore. Who is going to use those parking garages at the beach when it takes two hours to get 10 miles? If I have to drive 2 hours I may as well go to the other coast to go to the beach. And don’t get me started on home rule. Vote these people out!

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • Islandman

    The Parking garage on Holmes Beach has to be one of the worst ideas EVER.

    I agree, we have to vote theses idiots out before they pave over everything!

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • Debann


    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • WTF

    3 different architects at the same time because "staff" doesn't have the skill set. Cary Knight is like a used car salesman in his explanation. Bishop was no better. A parking garage, you know concrete, steel and ramps this is such a design challenge? How about looking a little closer to home say like the Bradenton Parking lot. Did they ever reach out to NDC, you know the folks we rent the old records building for next to nothing, probably could of done a presentation on the City of Bradenton process who built it or our own local Fawley-Bryant who were the architects on the build. Or even go to the next county of Sarasota and look at the Palm Ave garage with its stunning facade like Frank Gehry but done by local Sarasota Solstice architects But noooooo... spend 3 million of TAXPAYERS money instead

    NDC Construction, in conjunction with Fawley-Bryant Architects, utilized the Design/Build project delivery method to complete the project on-time and on-budget. The entire scope consisted of a full site work package, building structure such as slab on grade and precast concrete vertical construction. The project also included a highly detailed architectural aluminum package with several statement-making pieces to dress-up the building and separate it from a typical parking garage: a 3-story trellis, a perforated aluminum facade, a 3-story aluminum fin facade

    Owner: City of Bradenton

    Project Architect: Fawley-Bryant Architects

    Project Scope: Municipal Parking Garage

    Construction Cost: $13.8 Million

    Completion Date: February 2015


    Or how about Palm Avenue Garage in Downtown Sarasota is something you're not going to forget after you witness it in person. It will become an architectural landmark after a few years. For the most part it is a standard parking structure. However, its facade is adorned with massive "sails" that shield the decks from the sun at the most potent times of the day. It was designed by Solstice Architects based in Sarasota,


    Or just get Frank Gehry, one of my favorites https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Gehry

    Thursday, May 16 Report this