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 today 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.
The Nature of the Lake Flores
Based on some of the comments made here on BradentonsFuture.com and on our Facebook page, we believe there are some misconceptions about the nature of the Lake Flores location, the property itself, and how best to develop it. Hopefully, this post and some aerial images will help to clear up some of these misconceptions.
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Water Quality Improvements
One of the most ingenious design characteristics of Peninsula Bay is its potential for positive impact on the water quality of the surrounding area. The proposed upland cut waterway would connect Palma Sola Bay and the Cortez Peninsula Canal – which is currently a dead-end waterway with stagnant water at its end point – allowing boaters to access Sarasota Bay. This upland cut waterway would create a natural flushing mechanism, allowing water to flow with the tides between the two bodies of water, significantly improving water quality in the Cortez Peninsula Canal.
Also of potentially significant environmental benefit is a 67-acre lake that is a central part of the proposed Peninsula Bay community. This lake would be created between the mangroves on Palma Sola Bay and the development’s residential areas, forming a scenic waterfront buffer that would filter potential runoff before reaching the bay, while protecting the property from potential storm damage. The combination of improved water quality and healthy mangroves would encourage a thriving food chain by providing a habitat for breeding marine life and protection for their maturing offspring.
The Cortez Bridge… Now What?
The original Cortez Bridge was a wooden structure built in 1921 to connect the fishing village of Cortez to what is now Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. Prior to that construction, Anna Maria Island had been accessible only by boat.
Fast forward to today, and the current Cortez Bridge is the subject of spirited debate. The existing bridge was built in 1965 and has been deemed by the Florida Department of Transportation as having outlived its original 50-year lifespan. A recent repair project extended the bridge’s usefulness another 10 years, but FDOT officials warn that the bridge will continue to deteriorate due to “extremely aggressive” environmental conditions resulting from saltwater spray.
The big question has become, “now what?” Options under discussion include replacing the existing structure with a low-level drawbridge, a mid-level drawbridge, or a high-level fixed bridge. Another possibility is adding a new bridge to Longboat Key. There are pros and cons with every scenario, and many people have definite opinions about what should be done.
As time moves on, a decision will have to be made about the future of the Cortez Bridge. This process will certainly include much community input. We look forward to being part of that discussion and doing what we can to help the community make the best decision for all concerned.
For additional information please visit www.cortezbridge.com.