Sale of Bradenton City Hall land could bring retail, hotels and housing

Bradenton officials continue to consider the potential sale of the City Hall property, and this effort could bring a mix of retail, hotel, office, condominium and multi-family housing to the waterfront. Manatee River Sea.

Over the past two months, the Regional Economic Advisory Group has conducted an economic impact study to research the effect of the sale of Bradenton City Hall.

The group found that developing the property itself would generate $656 million in regional economic output and approximately $4.8 million in municipal tax revenue. The property could generate about $3.8 million annually from new property taxes.

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“It’s incredibly unique, there aren’t many places like this in the state anymore,” said economic consultant Jared Parker.

“Ultimately, we found that the most lucrative scenario would be retail, for tax purposes,” he said. “The best for the economy would be office space. Those are the two best uses. On the other hand, the worst use we found is multi-family units.”

The advisory group presented City Council with a tool on Wednesday morning that analyzes the different economic effects the property could have, depending on whether it is sold for retail, housing, hotel space or mixed-use development. .

City officials can now use the tool to compare the economic effect of proposals submitted by different developers looking to buy the property. The deadline for submitting offers to purchase the site is August 15.

While no proposals have been submitted to the city to date, officials believe developers are likely to submit plans for a mixed-use development that could include retail and restaurant space, hotel space, condos and offices.

“That’s what’s built if you look at Florida’s waterfronts, and there’s a reason,” city administrator Rob Perry said. “It maximizes tax revenue and maximizes GDP, and provides the appropriate financial structure for a developer who will need to get a coalition of investors to bring in $500-600 million to build this type of project.”

Unpopular location from the start

The Bradenton City Hall property has a controversial history.

It was purchased in the 1950s when the city built its auditorium. Then, in the late 1990s, authorities voted to move City Hall and its emergency services to the downtown property in the face of strong opposition and public scrutiny.

The decision was so unpopular that all council members who voted in favor of the purchase lost their next election, current council member Marianne Barnebey told the Herald-Tribune.

Barnebey was among those opposing the purchase at the time, and she was elected in November 1997 largely because of her public advocacy against the move of City Hall.

“The building caused a lot of stress and tension, disruption and hurt feelings,” Barnebey said. “We didn’t have 1,000 people show up to protest Vietnam in Bradenton, but we did have over 1,000 people show up against the installation of this building.”

On a personal note, Barnebey said she wasn’t basing her vote on the sale solely on the amount of tax revenue a potential project might generate, but also on the effect it might have on the surrounding area.

“If we’re able to get something that’s going to not only help us financially, but encourage more ideas like this, then our downtown will be really re-energized,” Barnebey said. “We have several different properties that could be redeveloped in ways that would improve our downtown, improve the experience for those who live downtown, work downtown, and those who come to visit us.”

Despite the division in the community over the purchase of the property, Mayor Gene Brown said the decision gave city officials the opportunity to sell the land for redevelopment that they have today, and now city officials have the tools to make an informed decision on the sale.

“As we move forward and get those opportunities from developers, we can say, ‘is it 10% hotel, is it 90%, is it is that 10%?’ and see what the economic impact is,” Brown said. “I think it’s very important when we move forward with this… very important decision, and not in a rushed way but in an informed way with information that are going to be in front of us.”

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