Regional Roundup

By Beau Denton March 1, 2011

Manatee County

Manatee County Completes Rowing Facility

An $825,000 project at Fort Hamer Park on the Manatee River is now complete, including an 8,000-square-foot boathouse, a deck area and floating docks. In January nearly 200 rowers from Harvard University practiced at the new facility, which is part of a regional rowing initiative that also includes a $19.5 million project to turn Benderson Park into a world-class rowing facility. The Sarasota County Commission recently approved the deal for construction at the Benderson facility, which will begin in July.

Manatee Bridge Faces Delays

After an update from URS Corporation, the firm hired to design a $30 million bridge on the Manatee River, the Manatee County Commission opted to delay construction on the bridge at least until July. The design process raised questions about whether the roads leading to the bridge are suited for the increased traffic flow; federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the EPA, are reviewing the project. The bridge, which has been in discussion for more than 13 years, would link Upper Manatee River Road with Fort Hamer Road in Parrish.

Palmetto Company Lands New York Contract

U.S. Traffic Corporation, sister company to Palmetto-based manufacturer Peek Traffic, was awarded a contract to upgrade traffic intersections throughout New York City. Peek Traffic will provide equipment for the upgrade, including signal controllers and cabinets for traffic controls. This marks the third contract in a row that the New York City Department of Transportation has awarded to U.S. Traffic and Peek Traffic Corporation.

Anna Maria Property Sales Up in 2010

There were 309 total property sales on Anna Maria Island in 2010, up from 225 in 2009, according to figures released by real estate agents on the island. Single-family homes sold totaled 186, up from 120 in 2009, and 95 condominiums were sold, down from 96 in 2009. The average home sale price dropped from $521,588 in 2009 to $501,802 in 2010.

Sarasota County

Sarasota Seeks Online Input for Redevelopment

Sarasota County placed its commercial redevelopment regulations online in February, using a format modeled on Wikipedia, where users can submit their own changes. The county hopes local citizens will weigh in on proposed changes to the code, especially in relation to Bee Ridge Road and the mid-county stretch of U.S. 41. The wiki will be live until early this month, when county officials will review the proposed changes. If the input is beneficial, the county may adopt this format for other upcoming policy changes. Go to

Sarasota Reduces Impact Fees

In January the Sarasota County Commission approved a two-year cut in road impact fees for new development projects. For building permits issued before Feb. 1, 2013, impact fees will be 50 percent less than the current level, as long as construction is completed by Feb. 1, 2014. Developers say the reduced fees will spur growth and create jobs; opponents fear the move will unnecessarily burden the local economy, which relies on impact fees to offset infrastructure costs. The Manatee Board of County Commissioners extended its 2009 suspension of school-related impact fees and half of all transportation-related impact fees until July 2013.

North Port Health Center Renovations Complete

Last month the North Port Health Center celebrated the completion of renovations and the opening of its new extension, which expands the center from 6,870 square feet to 12,145 square feet. The expansion includes 10 new examination rooms and a meeting space; additional staff, including a physician and part-time dentist, were hired to work in the new space.

Booker High Project Underway

Construction has begun on Sarasota’s Booker High School. The $58 million project, including five new buildings and renovations to five existing buildings, is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Comcast Combines Regions

Comcast, in national headlines recently for its acquisition of NBC Universal, has combined its Fort Myers and Naples operations with its Sarasota office. The move, aimed at increasing efficiency across the region, will result in no more than 10 layoffs in management, marketing and administration. The combined offices now have more than 590,000 customers and approximately 1,300 employees. The new general manager for the region, Barbara Hagen, will work out of Sarasota.

Ringling Digital Film Lab Expands for 2011

Ringling College of Art and Design has announced the schedule of visiting filmmakers for its 2011 Digital Filmmaking Studio Lab, including Bill Paxton, R. Scott Thomson, Martha Stewart, Werner Herzog, Andy Garcia and Paul Schiff. The lab will also conduct an annual contest for juniors in partnership with the Independent Film Channel and Rainbow Entertainment, and the lab will continue to move forward with plans for a professional post-production facility on campus.


Across the State

State Budget May Cut $37 Million from Local Schools

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget includes a plan to reduce school spending by 10 percent across the state, part of a plan to reduce the state budget by $4.6 billion. The proposed cuts would result in a $20 million budget loss for Manatee County schools and $17 million for Sarasota County schools—the combined equivalent of 700 average teacher salaries. The two counties have cut a total of $150 million from their education budgets over the last four years. The state legislature is convening this month to review Gov. Scott’s budget.


Real Estate

Bradenton-based Starwood Land Ventures has purchased the 557-acre Summerlake in Orlando for $27.9 million. The master planned development includes 1,500 units 1.5 miles north of Disney World. Starwood also owns Independence, the community directly north of Summerlake.

The California-based McClatchy Company, parent company of the Bradenton Herald, sold the Bradenton Herald building on Manatee Avenue to the company’s pension fund for $4.77 million. The 88,398-square-foot building previously sold for $840,000 in October 1979. The company now plans to lease the property from the pension fund, as it has with several of its newspapers throughout the country.

Max and David Puyanic of Key Biscayne have purchased two St. Armands buildings for a total of $3.8 million. Both buildings—the two-story, 15,472-square-foot McCarver & Moser Jewelers building and the 4,054-square-foot Loralie Designs building—are fully leased.

Plantation Grove Ltd. has purchased a Sarasota medical office and retail building from Jaco-Sarasota LLC for $3.75 million. The 13,685-square-foot building, located at 1427 S. Tamiami Trail, houses a Verizon store and three medical offices and was last sold for $2.49 million in June 2001.

Doug Manning and Jeremiah Supple of Louisiana have purchased the majority of the Bradenton Boat Club from TSPFL Holding LLC for $2.94 million. The transaction includes the club’s business operations and all of its facilities except for 20 dry boat slips. The Cortez Road property was foreclosed on by Whitney National Bank last June.

Kompo Family Co. LLC, owned by 1-800-ASK-GARY founder Gary Kompothecras, has purchased the 20-room Captiva Beach Resort on Siesta Key for $1.83 million. The previous owner, Robert Ispaso, purchased the resort for $650,000 in 1981. Kompothecras and company representatives have declined to comment on future plans for the property, located about 100 yards from his under-construction mansion.

Robert Arra and Loring Weatherholtz have purchased the 1,775-square-foot building at 436 St. Armands Circle from William, Judith and Janna Carman for $1.5 million. The property previously sold for $103,000 in April 1974. Weatherholtz and Arra currently operate The Stadium Gallery in a leased location at 372 St. Armands Circle.

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