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Bradenton to buy Tropicana property for $5.25M after council approves

The city of Bradenton is buying 32-plus acres from Tropicana off 9th Street East and US 301.
The city of Bradenton is buying 32-plus acres from Tropicana off 9th Street East and US 301.
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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The Bradenton City Council voted this week to allow the city to buy 32.39 acres from Tropicana for $5.25 million so Bradenton can relocate its public works department there. The land may also be used for additional purposes, officials said at the May 22 council meeting where approval for the sale was unanimous.

Negotiations have been ongoing since November, when the council initially authorized the city to put together a purchase agreement.

“Tropicana’s first price was a lot more than this, and we went back to them and said no,” Mayor Gene Brown told the council on May 22, adding the result of their discussions was “close to seven figures coming down.”

Two parcels are involved in the sale, off U.S. 301 and Ninth Street East. There, the city of Bradenton plans to consolidate its public works department and solid waste operations in one area. At the moment, they are in two different locations, according to City Administrator Rob Perry.

Money for the purchase will come from three places: $1.05 million from the general fund, $1.05 million from the sanitation fund and $3.15 million from the water/sewer fund. All the funds have “very healthy balances,” Perry said.

“It’s a great site,” Perry said of the property. “There’s not many other sites of that nature around.” He noted the city owns parcels on both sides of 9th Street East.

The acquisition is an “opportunity to move into the future," Perry told the council.

For one, the current public works and solid waste buildings are old and outdated.

The public works building off Ninth Street West was constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and has a “lot of inefficiencies” due to its age, according to Vice Mayor Marianne Barnebey. “We currently cannot use the second floor,” Barnebey said.

Owning the property also presents the potential for cost savings, according to Perry.

“We are looking at opportunities to partner with our friends at Manatee County for the possibility of shared services where we realize economies of scale,” Perry said. Facilities where lifts, bays and other equipment are maintained could be shared. “We can probably both save a little bit of money both on the construction of some of the infrastructure but also on the overall operations,” Perry said.

The property is large enough that it could be used for more than just public works buildings, Mayor Brown added. At the moment, the public works facilities require about 10 acres. With 30-plus acres at its disposal, the city has “opportunities for some workforce housing on the property,” Brown said, noting if public works employees lived there, they would not have to drive to work.

“They’re pretty hardworking,” Perry said of the public works employees. “We owe it to them to give them the tools they need.” That starts with facilities and infrastructure, he said.

The council voted 5-0 to authorize the city to enter into the purchase agreement with Tropicana.

Before the sale is final, there is a 120-day due diligence period, during which the city will conduct surveys and inspections.

“We don’t anticipate any problems out there because it was never used for heavy industrial use,” Perry said. Currently, Tropicana uses the property for trailer storage, he noted.

The final transaction is subject to approval by the council after the due diligence period.



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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