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Bradenton council agrees to sell city hall to luxury developer for $14.1m

Written by on Saturday, January 13, 2024

The cost of moving city hall and the police department will likely be multiples of that.

By Ryan Stanley

Original Air Date: Jan. 12, 2024

Host: The City of Bradenton and the developer of Vias at Bradenton moved forward to build a 20-floor mixed-use luxury condo tower on the downtown land that is home to city hall today. WSLR News reporter Ryan Stanley has more on that. 

The city hall property spans four acres on the riverfront. Photo: Stanley

Ryan Stanley: A draft term sheet unveiled by Bradenton City Administrator Rob Perry at Wednesday’s council meeting outlines key details of a preliminary development agreement between the City of Bradenton and Vias at Bradenton LLC. The proposed development, which spans four acres along the Manatee River, includes city hall and the Bradenton Police Department, and is set to undergo a comprehensive transformation into what is expected to be a mixed-use space with luxury condo, hotel, and commercial components.

Perry addressed the council to explain the process going forward.

Rob Perry: This is the first time period, which is the preliminary agreement, and we’re asking for a motion to approve the preliminary agreement, authorizing me to approve it, basically.

RS: The draft term sheet attached to the preliminary agreement highlights essential aspects of the eventual “Master Development Agreement”. These include a purchase price of $14.1 million and a carefully structured deposit payment schedule. 

RP: The next significant date is really the master development agreement, and that’s March 29. So it’s right around the corner. This provides a 90-day period, basically, to hone down some of those issues. 

RS: Discussion about the potential sale and redevelopment of city hall isn’t new. So far, there have been mostly mixed reviews from residents — many support the revitalization of the riverfront in an effort to bolster the city’s economy, but others don’t believe giveaways to private development are a good idea, and that the property should remain a public space.

Questions at Wednesday’s meeting centered around costs associated with the sale.

Bradenton City Hall. Photo: Stanley

Council Member Lisa Gonzalez Moore:

Lisa Gonzalez Moore: There are things that have to be cleared, that is our expense and our responsibility. What I mentioned in my meeting with Mr. Perry is that what’s negotiable is the cost of the premium. And given the purchase price, the expense is roughly probably going to be in the range of $36,000. I don’t think it’s unusual for a seller to pay for that, but it’s my opinion that we should be asking not to pay for it, in the very least.

RS: As Councillor Moore briefly mentioned, other noteworthy points of the term sheet include contingencies such as the city’s approval of re-plat, site plans, and construction plans. The development requirements are detailed, specifying a mixed-use layout with a focus on non-residential and residential components. The plan incorporates public green space, a parking garage, landscaping, and off-site improvements.

Mayor Gene Brown had the last words.

Gene Brown: The motion has been clarified. The motion is accepted, secondary accepted. We’ll move on to start the vote. In Ward one? Yes. Two? Yes. Three? Yes. Four, and five? Yes. That’s five to zero. The motion passes. Thank you, Mr. Perry.

Rendering of Vias of Bradenton.

RS: The timeline for the project anticipates the execution of the master development agreement by March 29, with closing and conveyance expected in January 2026, subject to the successful fulfillment of contingencies.

The Bradenton Police Department has already found a new home on city-owned property off 6th Street and will officially relocate in 2025. A new city hall location, however, has not been finalized. 

There is no cost estimate yet for that, but if recent government construction projects in the region are an indicator, the price tag could approach the three-digit millions. 

This has been Ryan Stanley reporting for WSLR News. 


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