Thursday, January 31, 2013

Village Visioning Workshop, Part Two

The second installment of the Village of the Arts Visioning Workshop hosted by the Bradenton 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency and Realize Bradenton is Monday, Feb. 4.

The workshop will take place at the Renaissance on Ninth, 1816 9th Street W., 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

At the workshop, the CRA and designers will discuss the results from the January 14 Connector’s Visioning Session and review design ideas presented by the University of South Florida School of Architecture.

The 14th Street CRA and Realize Bradenton are hosting workshops to stir resident input on redevelopment possibilities in the neighborhoods.

Beverages and light snacks available. Child care will also be available.


On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Realize Bradenton will host "What's next", a social gathering at the Riverwalk Mosaic Amphitheater to discuss new projects in downtown Bradenton. The event begins at 5 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m.

On Feb. 9, Realize Bradenton and the Bradenton DDA, in partnership with South Florida Museum, is hosting Art Connects, an exhibition reception to recognize the art work of roughly 100 Manatee County high school students. The reception, to be held at the museum, will feature work showing Bradenton's cultural history along with a summary of what prior students learned from the exercise.

The reception is set for 5: 30 p.m.

Suncoast Community Capital offers free tax service

Suncoast Community Capital, a non-profit entrepreneurship and small business assistance organization, is offering free tax preparation services at three Manatee County locations.

Only tax filers with a household income of $51,000 or less are eligible.

Walk-ins are welcome at the Suncoast Community Capital office, 302 Manatee Ave. E,, Suite 308, between 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on Wednesdays Feb. 6 through April 10. The service is through the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program.

The Palmetto Boys & Girls Club, 1600 10th St. W, will provide the service by appointment only between 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Feb. 12, 16 and 26; March 12 and 26 and April 9. Bradenton Village, 1302 3rd St. W, will also provide the service by appointment only between 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on March 9 and 23.

Those interested are required to bring valid photo identification, social security cards for all family members, all W-2 wage and tax statements for 2012 and a 2011 tax return. Filers may also bring educational expense statements, child or dependent care expense statements and mortgage and property tax information.

For more information, call 941-744-2666 or visit

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Palmetto gov't gives real estate market a safety net

Palmetto City Commissioners voted Monday to amend a city ordinance that will extend performance security bonds beyond one year and defect security bonds for three years.

The vote will give developers an extended period of time to install infrastructure, such as roadways and sidewalks, in designed communities.

Under the previous ordinance, developers had the option to build the infrastructure improvements themselves or post a performance bond for one year with one possible extension. Upon completion of the subdivision, a security bond, equal to 10 percent of the total cost to install, had to be taken out to ensure any defects would be corrected and posted for one year.

With the economy still in recovery, Allen Tusing, Public Works Director, suggested the amendment. Tusing added that in some subdivisions, infrastructure defects are not detectable for several years after installation or construction.

"We don't allow people to say "We can do this to provide the infrastructure, then build the plats," he said.

Tusing said the amendment was brought on by the slow development of Sanctuary Cove in Palmetto.

In 2010, a Central Florida land investment and development firm purchased the proposed Sanctuary Cove project, which at the time, was facing the largest foreclosure action in Manatee County history.

The deal resolved a $57 million foreclosure lawsuit that three lenders filed against the project. Sanctuary Cove was approved for 1,026 condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes.

The project was approved by Palmetto City Commissioners in 2005. 

Read more here:


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ribbon cutting ceremony for new Ninth Avenue Bridge

A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Ninth Avenue West Bridge over Wares Creek and unveil a historical marker is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday in Bradenton.

The new bridge reopened Dec. 20 after months of construction to better facilitate water flow as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project of Wares Creek. Construction on a new bridge began in July and it was remodeled to have a slightly higher elevation in order to reduce flooding. The City of Bradenton received a $1 million stimulus grant to rebuild the 67-year-old bridge.

The city will also replace bridges at 12th and 14th avenues to ease the flow of water in Wares Creek. Rebuilding of the 12th and 14th avenue bridges will begin in February.

Quality Enterprises USA Inc., a Naples-based construction company, was awarded the bid to replace the 12th and 14th avenue bridges and the city will pay the company $2.38 million for the work, as well as for drainage improvements on 20th Street West.

The Wares Creek flood control project, a $51.8 million project led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, began in January of 2012. The Corps of Engineers' contractors finished dredging 37,000 cubic yards of material from the flood-prone creek in early August and the next phase, designated Phase III A, will consist of channel widening and retaining wall construction.

Graffiti artwork coming to Bradenton's skate park

By mid-February, graffiti art will cover most of Bradenton's new skate park at the Riverwalk downtown.

On Tuesday, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority public art coordinator Ann Wykell said two local artists -- Matt Lang and Brandon Sommers -- have been selected to spray paint graffiti-style art throughout the park. The artists will paint roughly four pieces each and the work will remain at the skate park for a year or two. 

Wykell said about eight artists applied for the opportunity and Lang and Sommers were selected by an art panel. The artwork, which will reflect skateboard design and graphics, will be paid for by the DDA. 

"We want to integrate public art into Riverwalk and we want to integrate artwork to relate to the people who   use it," Wykell said. 

Some of the sketches by Lang were presented to the DDA board on Tuesday. One featured a giant eyeball painted along a ramp inside the skate park.

In other art-related news, Realize Bradenton and the Bradenton DDA, in partnership with South Florida Museum, is hosting Art Connects, an exhibition reception to recognize the art work of roughly 100 Manatee County high school students. The reception, to be held at the museum, will feature work showing Bradenton's cultural history along with a summary of what prior students learned from the exercise. 

The reception is set for 5: 30 p.m. Feb. 9, 201 10th St. W. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wells Fargo donates $10,000 to Manatee CEDC

Members of Manatee County government, Wells Fargo, and Manatee's Central Economic Development Center gathered at Miller’s Dutch Kitchen in Bradenton Thursday for a grant award ceremony geared toward helping small businesses. 

Provided Photo
Wells Fargo representatives delivered a $10,000 check to the CEDC to benefit MidTown Manatee's 14th Street Revitalization project. 

 “Wells Fargo is proud to support the Central Economic Development Corporation with funding to benefit the 14th Street Revitalization Project,” said Ana Rodriguez, the Wells Fargo Cortez store manager. “As America’s number one small business lender, Wells Fargo is committed to helping business owners succeed financially and improving the economic future of the communities we serve.”

MidTown Manatee is comprised of business owners promoting and planning the redevelopment of the 14th Street community. The CEDC focuses on development needs in Manatee and the surrounding areas.

“Manatee County government is committed to the growth of small local businesses in the urban core," said Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac, who represents District 7. "It is through partnerships like this between Manatee County, the CEDC and Wells Fargo that we will be able to provide resources for the success of businesses located here in MidTown Manatee.”

City of Palmetto to host MLK Day parade, festival

The City of Palmetto, in collaboration with the Palmetto Youth Center, Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency,, Manatee County government and Manatee County School District, will host a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and multicultural festival celebration at Lincoln Park, 501 17th Street East, and Lincoln Middle School, 305 17th Street East, on Saturday Jan. 19.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. and will start at Lincoln Middle School. The festival will begin at 3 p.m., when band “55 South” will kick-off the events.

“We can learn so much from other cultures outside of our own and this event is a great opportunity to share and to learn,” said Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant.

The festival will include food, live music, dance performances, and activities for youth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bradenton Mayor sends invite to hotel lovebirds

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston was so impressed with our story about Jim and Arline Smyth, the elderly couple from Massachusetts that found love at Bradenton's Manatee River Front Hotel back in the 1940s, he has personally invited the lovebirds to the groundbreaking ceremony for the $15 million renovation of the hotel on Thursday at 4 p.m.

The hotel, now purchased by Widewaters Bradenton LLC, will eventually reopen as a Hampton Inn and Suites featuring 115 rooms, which will include king- and queen-sized suites, along with traditional rooms.

Commonly known as The Pink Palace for its exterior color, the Smyths, who now live in Englewood, met at the hotel as co-workers in 1947. 

The hotel is located at 309 10th St. W in downtown Bradenton.

Downtown development to be discussed at today's Palmetto press conference

Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant and other city officials will gather for a press conference today, Jan. 15, at 5 p.m. at the Regatta Pointe Marina Riverhouse Reef and Grill to discuss redevelopment projects in the city's downtown area.

In December, Palmetto city commissioners passed a resolution designating a portion of the Community Redevelopment Agency district as a brownfield area.

The designated area consists mainly of downtown Palmetto, with the bulk of the district planned along 17th Street West between 11th Avenue West and Canal Road.

Administered by the Florida Department of Environment Protection, the brownfield redevelopment program assists in the development of properties that may have environmental issues as a result of past uses, such as agricultural or industrial.

The program would make property owners in the brownfield eligible for grants, tax credits and other benefits. It also will lure private investment to the area. Applicants for the grants can receive refunds of $2,500 per job created on the taxes it pays.

The area will be called Palmetto Economic Enhancement District.

The CRA has also made plans to put out bids for builders and developers to purchase property at 926 Fifth St. W. The property, which can accommodate six small buildings, is vacant and officials hope attracting businesses will stimulate the local economy.

Follow us on and @bradentonherald and @_1NickWilliams on Twitter for news following the press conference.
Read more here:

Monday, January 14, 2013

A love story 65 years in the making

The Smyths have a connection to Bradenton and its historic hotel, the Manatee River Hotel, one that has lasted the entirety of their unfailing love affair, now in its 65th year.

And with the groundbreaking ceremony for the $15 million renovation of hotel slated for 4 p.m. Thursday, Jim and Arline Smyth took a stroll down memory lane, one that precedes the building’s pink makeover. 

Read more of this 65-year-long love story in Tuesday's Bradenton Herald or online at

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bradenton councilman Gallo to serve as Vice Mayor, again

Galo is sworn into his sixth term as Ward 1 representative.
Bradenton councilman Gene Gallo will remain Bradenton’s Vice Mayor through 2013.

The Bradenton City Council voted 5-0 at its meeting Jan. 9 to give the title to Gallo, the city's Ward 1 representative, for another year.

The Vice Mayor has the authority to act as Mayor during the Mayor’s absence.

Gallo was elected to his sixth term in the November general election.

-- Nick Williams

Varnadore elected Vice Mayor of Palmetto

Palmetto commissioner Tambra Varnadore was elected Vice Mayor during the Palmetto City Commission on Monday.

The position was previously held by Ward 3 Commissioner Brian Williams. Varnadore was nominated by Ward 1 commissioner Charles Smith

As Vice Mayor, Varnadore will serve as acting mayor in the absence of Shirley Bryant.  Tambra, who served Ward 2, was elected to the Palmetto City Commission in 2004.

In other action Monday, A Manatee company was denied its requested to be incorporated by the City of Palmetto.

Art Rentals, LLC was seeking annexation for four general commercial duplexes consisting of eight units on .7 acres at 529 20th St. W. The liability company made the request to gain access to the city’s sewage line.

At Monday's meeting, Williams questioned the condition of the property and swiftly made a motion to deny annexing the property. The motion passed unanimously.

Allen Tusing, director of Palmetto Public Works, previously said Art Rentals would pay for a lift station to gain access to the city’s utilities. The cost would be about $14,000.

The Commission set a public hearing for Jan. 28 regarding a subdivision ordinance amended. The amendment would provide more than one year of extension for performance security. At the moment, developers can make infrastructure improvement or put out a performance bond for one year.

Lastly, the commission approved conditional use permits for farm worker housing and parking at 607, 608, 609, 610, 619, 621 and 623  11th St. W and 1010 and 1012 7th Avenue West.   

Safety meeting: Palmetto's Mount Carmel Community Resource Center at 1414 2nd Ave. West will host a community safety meeting with the Palmetto Police Dept and Manatee County Sherriff's Office on Saturday (Jan. 12) at 9 a.m.

-- Nick Williams

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Bradenton Herald has a new blog

Welcome to the City Pulse.

To start, I'm your blogger, Nick Williams. Here, I will attempt (with all my might) to keep you updated with all the behind the scene action in the City of Bradenton, Palmetto and our island cities.

A little about myself. I began working at the Bradenton Herald in 2012 and I have nine years of newspaper experience. I earned my journalism degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., where he also met my wife, Corneshia. We are proud parents of a 2-year-old daughter, Layla.
I was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles, so I am both a Saints fan and Lakers fan.

Please feel free to contact me @_1NickWilliams on Twitter or at the Herald's office at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049 or