Ground Breakers

By Forest Balderson April 1, 2011

After years of silence on the construction front, businesses, institutions and governments are starting to put shovels in the ground again. Here are five projects that will diversify the economy and enhance our quality of life.

1 LECOM School of Dental Medicine

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, the nation’s largest medical school, opened its second campus in Lakewood Ranch in 2004 and now has 600 medical and 400 pharmacy students. In 2012, it will open a dental school in Lakewood Ranch, building a second facility adjacent to its medical school.

Address: 5000 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch

Who’s building it? LECOM; architect: Fawley Bryant Architects; builder: Willis A. Smith Construction

What’s being built: A $52 million, three-story, concrete-and-glass school of dental medicine that will closely resemble the school’s current modern structure.

Impact: LECOM’s latest expansion shows its commitment to the region. By 2016, its School of Dental Medicine will enroll 400 students, half of whom are expected to be from out-of-state. The new dental school also will add 125 employees, bringing LECOM’s total staff to 200. “The construction of the new LECOM School of Dental Medicine building in Lakewood Ranch will bring jobs to the area, and the influx of new students, staff and faculty will boost the local economy,” says Robert Hirsch, D.D.S., LECOM’s Dean for Dental Medicine. LECOM’s institutional, employee and student spending is expected to reach $14 million in the Bradenton area, which will include off-campus housing needs for the students. Student dental clinics will provide care to qualified underserved residents, and some of these graduates will build their practices locally.

Status: The school will begin enrolling its first 100 students in June 2011, and will open for classes in 2012.


2 Sarasota National Cemetery

Located on S.R. 72, approximately four miles east of I-75, the new 295-acre Sarasota National Cemetery is launching Phase IB of the project, which provides no-cost burial for the region’s veterans, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Address: 9810 S.R. 72, Sarasota

Who’s building it? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; contractor: The $16 million contract was awarded to Kadell Industries, Niceville, Fla., and C & C Contractors JV, Notasulga, Ala.

What’s being built: Phase 1A of the cemetery developed 10 acres and completed 4,400 gravesite spaces, including cremation and casket burials. To date, the cemetery has completed nearly 3,200 interments. Phase IB of the project began in January and will include an administrative office, committal service shelter and equipment facility. It also includes approximately 11,500 pre-placed crypts, 9,000 in-ground sites for cremated remains, a columbarium with 7,200 niches, an administration and public information complex with an electronic gravesite locator, public restrooms, a permanent maintenance facility, entrance and flag assembly areas, and a memorial wall. Other infrastructure elements include roadways, landscaping, environmental preservation, utilities and an irrigation system. Facilities are expected to operate, maintain and provide burials for the next eight to 10 years.

Impact: Almost 400,000 veterans live within a 75-mile radius of Sarasota, and Phase IB will meet the burial needs for many of those veterans. As one of only seven National Veterans Cemeteries in Florida, the Sarasota U.S. Veteran Cemetery is expected to become a major visitor destination in the region, attracting hundreds of thousands of people from all over the United States who want to honor veterans. “Phase I of the project already attracted about 100,000 visitors last year,” says cemetery director Wesley Jones.

Status: Construction of Phase IB of the project started in late January of this year and will be completed in the winter of 2012.


3 Nathan Benderson Park

Nathan Benderson Park is a 600-acre, county-owned park with a 500-acre lake and two smaller lakes that can be used for paddle sports (rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing) and a nature park for running, walking, freshwater fishing and bird watching. Currently, the park offers a concrete boat ramp, fishing pier, small picnic shelter, restrooms and recreational trail. Construction will begin soon on transforming the park into an international rowing facility.

Address: 2500 Honore Ave., Sarasota

Who’s building it? Developer: Sarasota County; project manager Phase I and II: Benderson Development. At press time, Benderson was putting the design and construction for the rowing facility out to bid.

What’s being built: The rowing facility has been budgeted at $19.5 million for Phase I (dredging, filling and contouring the lake to international standards as well as utilities and drainage systems) and Phase II (includes hardscaping, landscaping, picnic and parking facilities and walking trails).

Impact: The Benderson rowing facility has the potential to make this region one of the most sought-after rowing destinations in the Americas. There were 30,392 attendees at last year’s four regattas, which resulted in 3,162 hotel room stays and a total estimated economic impact of $4.55 million. In addition to training and other events, it is anticipated that Sarasota will be hosting 10 to 15 regattas per year. Once established, the facility is expected to be self-sustaining. Eventually, the facility will accommodate world championship events that could bring in $25 million annually. “The rowing world is buzzing about this right now,” says John McCarthy, who heads up the county’s recreational tourism development office.

Status: Phase I and Phase II are expected to wrap up in 2013. Phase III (includes bleachers, boathouse, Jumbotron screen) should begin in 2013 and will be privately funded.


4 Lost Creek Resort Apartments

A 272-unit apartment complex in Lakewood Ranch

Address: Lakewood Ranch Boulevard between S.R. 64 and S.R. 70

Who’s building it? P.A.C. Land Development Corporation in Winter Park.

What’s being built: A $30 million apartment project on 23 acres just across from Lakewood Ranch High School that will include a pool, spa, clubhouse fitness center, indoor basketball court, cyber café, aerobics room, storage facilities and enclosed garages. The project will be wood frame, three stories, and units will range from 800 to 1,300 square feet and be priced between $750 and $1,250 a month.

Impact: Lost Creek Resort Apartments is the first apartment project in Sarasota since 2002 and the first in Manatee since 2005, according to Brian Kennelly of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty. Built with conventional financing, it’s an example of more confidence in the residential market and in the region’s future growth.

Status: Construction began this spring and will be completed June 2012. Tenants will begin moving in November and December of this year.


5 Port Manatee Berth 12

A bulk shipping terminal for decades, Port Manatee is expanding Berth 12 to handle the increased container shipping that will occur after the Panama Canal expansion is complete in 2014.

Address: 300 Tampa Bay Way, Palmetto (off U.S. 41)

Who’s building it? Engineer: CH2M HILL, with global headquarters in Englewood, Colo.; hydrographic surveying: George F. Young, St. Petersburg.

What’s being built: A $50 million project that will dredge and expand Berth 12 by 584 feet for a total of 1,584 feet in order to handle container ships. An adjacent 52-acre container yard will be built to manage up to 500,000 containers annually.

Impact: The expansion of Berth 12 positions Port Manatee as an important container terminal in Florida. In addition to the bulk shipping on pallets of products such as fruit, fertilizer, cement and petroleum, Port Manatee will be able to accept container ships laden with all sorts of goods from clothing to furniture to appliances. This expansion should attract more investment, such as private warehousing and distribution businesses on the private land surrounding the port.

Status: Construction began this spring and will be completed October 2011.

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