Lake Flores Land Sold To IMG Academy
We recently sold 19 acres of our Lakes Flores property to IMG, a portion of which will be used for a new hotel with the rest slated for athletic fields and related structures. This hotel will be independently operated, featuring meeting space, pool, and restaurant – all open to the public. The Lake Flores development plan, as approved by Manatee County, allows for up to 500 hotel rooms at completion.
In a 2014 Bradentons Future post we wrote, “We feel strongly that the opportunity Lake Flores presents is one of economic and social revitalization and prosperity for the immediate area, and will ultimately benefit everyone in Manatee County.” Though it is still too early to forecast an opening date for this hotel, we are nevertheless excited to see this new business moving forward, bringing to fruition Lake Flores’ promise of further economic and social benefits for SW Bradenton and beyond.
Lake Flores Receives 2016 Outstanding Development Award
For the second consecutive year now, Lake Flores has been recognized by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA) for being an exceptional community. The proposed Manatee County community was named as the 2016 Outstanding Development at an awards luncheon in Jacksonville on June 3rd. In presenting the award, FPZA committee members praised Lake Flores’ public outreach efforts and its strong design emphasis on walkability. Last year, Lake Flores was honored by the same group as the 2015 Outstanding Planning Project.
“On behalf of the entire Lake Flores team, I’m honored to receive this award and especially pleased to be recognized for a second year,” said Whiting Preston, whose family owns the land and who has headed efforts to develop the Lake Flores vision. “Our team has been working very hard to move forward with our plans, and we appreciate the time and expertise of countless individuals who have contributed to our progress.”
Manatee County Commission
Approves Lake Flores Proposal
Whiting Preston is pleased to share that the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners has approved plans for the proposed master-planned community known as Lake Flores. The Lake Flores team appeared before commissioners August 6th to review the plans, answer questions and discuss details of the proposal. The approval was granted unanimously with a 5-0 vote.
“We are obviously very pleased with the decision of the County Commission,” said Preston. “We would like to thank everyone who spoke on behalf of the proposal today, as well as the hundreds of people who have encouraged and supported the plan along the way. This is a great day for the future of Manatee County.”
Preston commended county staff, department heads and team members who were instrumental in developing the Lake Flores proposal. “Today’s presentation was the result of the expert collaboration and hard work of many, many people. The county has been diligent in their work with us and we appreciate their wisdom and professionalism.”
Preston said he intends to move forward quickly and will meet with in-house staff and consultants to plan a timeline for future action. “We will sit down with our land planners and design team and begin to create our architectural standards, review the research on the type of housing that might be popular, locations of greenspace, formulate the infrastructure including creating gathering places near and along the lake. The ideas will quickly become a sought out community for both locals and those moving into the area. Our team will work closely with county staff to ensure that all requirements are met and that we proceed in an efficient and effective manner.”
Lake Flores is a proposed mixed-use development slated to offer a New Urbanism concept with residents living, working and playing in a walkable master-planned community. Located on nearly 1,300 acres stretching from IMG Academy west to 75th Street between Cortez Road and El Conquistador Parkway, the property had been used for agricultural purposes by Manatee Fruit Company for the last 50 years. The Lake Flores community is expected to gradually transform empty fields into a dynamic community with abundant green spaces and a 19-acre manmade lake. When complete, Lake Flores will include as many as 6,500 homes, 3 million square feet of retail and office space, and 500 hotel rooms.
Cortez Bridge “Breaking” News
The Cortez Bridge broke, again, about a week ago. Anyone trying to get on or off Anna Maria Island was stuck for about two hours. This is hardly newsworthy, but does call for an update on FDOT plans to address the need for improvement.
Estimates are that it could still be many years before construction begins, but as far as what is actually constructed, the FDOT appears focused on two options, both aimed at reducing traffic backups. One would be a higher, 35 ft. drawbridge requiring less frequent openings; the other would be a 65 ft. fixed span bridge.
Many in the area feel the fixed span option will clash with the character of Cortez, even if it does offer the most traffic-friendly solution. The 35 ft. bascule option would be the next best option for traffic, allowing a wider range of boats passage compared to the current 19 ft. span. Fixing or rebuilding the current bridge, while officially still in the mix, seems unpractical and highly unlikely.
Persons interested in having a say in the process can keep up with developments at the FDOT’s website, CortezBridge.com. The study is scheduled to be completed this summer and a public hearing should be announced soon.
Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Votes to Approve Peninsula Bay Proposal
Manatee Fruit Co. is pleased to report that the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners has approved plans for a proposed master-planned community known as Peninsula Bay. Whiting Preston and his team appeared before the Commission October 6th to answer questions and discuss details of the proposal.
“We are thrilled by the decision of the county commissioners and look forward to the next steps in making our vision of Peninsula Bay a reality,” said Mr. Preston. “We are tremendously excited about the potential positive impact this neighborhood could create for the entire region. We thank the county staff and Planning and Zoning Board for their recommendation of approval to the Board, as well as everyone who spoke today on our behalf.”
Located on 360 acres along Cortez Road, Peninsula Bay is currently zoned for planned development and primarily consists of an agricultural operation surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The development team envisions the property as a waterfront community of up to 1950 homes with a marina, boat ramp and kayak launch, a 67-acre lake that would buffer existing mangroves, and a waterfront area for shopping and dining.
Peninsula Bay Plan Brings
Over the past 30 plus years, the Preston family has a long history of providing for West Bradenton traffic improvement projects as the community grew. There is a road-widening project right now (53 Ave) that is an example of this involvement. There are many others to cite, i.e. El Conquistador Parkway, 75th Street west, Cortez Road, and others.
The tourism industry for Manatee County is a billion dollar plus industry that supports many businesses and families in our community. The beaches just happen to be the number one attraction for many Bradenton area visitors and residents. There are 2 bridges that are over 50 years old and lead to that amenity which have sustained the growth of the community. Those bridges are obsolete and need replacement as the draw bridges contribute to traffic congestion by opening frequently during the busy season. We spend millions of dollars pumping sand on the beach to accommodate more people and millions of dollars promoting the area as a vacation destination all over the world.
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