Why We Care

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 12.01.01 PMWe, the Preston family, have proudly worked our Southwest Bradenton farmland for more than 50 years, but now believe our county is at a crossroads. We’ve watched our community lay fallow while most new development – retail stores, restaurants, professional services, schools, parks, fire stations – has sprouted up to the east of Interstate 75. Over the past 20 years, where development has occurred in Southwest Bradenton, the projects didn’t mesh with our area’s historic fabric or provide what our city really needs.

Today, our more than 1600 acres in southwest Bradenton has come to be surrounded by other development, neighborhoods, roads, and other infrastructure. We believe it is inevitable that our land will no longer be practical to farm at some point in the future. But instead of selling our land, our family has a vision to create something truly special – a place containing a careful balance of parks, trails, retail stores, offices, and homes. Furthermore, we are committed to following the land use recommendations of Manatee County and The Urban Land Institute, while aspiring to rival Florida’s most successful planned communities, such as Lakewood Ranch.

For the Preston family, it’s time to be part of the solution; to breathe new life into our community by transforming our farmland into a new part of Bradenton the entire community will not only be proud of, but will benefit from directly.

It’s what we want for our community and hope it is what you want for yours.

As a family with deep roots in Bradenton, we ask for your input and support to help make Southwest Bradenton the vibrant community it can be. Over the next couple of months, we’ll provide more insight into the specifics of what our vision encompasses.

Whiting Preston
The Preston Family

16 comments on “Why We Care

  1. Karen M.

    I will miss driving by the tomato fields. Will someone else compensate for the vegetables you will no longer provide?

    Please take into consideration the increase in traffic and the increase need of water for new homes.

  2. Marion R K.

    Thanks for asking!
    A homes development based around a real farm would be a public service, and profitable. Check out Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois, and others like it.
    Please, please, please reduce lawns to stop overuse of fertilizers,herbicides and insecticides. Large lawns as presently designed are toxic deserts. Florida plants and trees in large swaths are lovely, less expensive to maintain and wouldn’t contribute to further degration of the waters of the Bay. Planning now for a more healthful future for people and the environment will be greatly appreciated down the road.
    Good luck.

  3. Patricia

    To the Preston Family, I understand your wanting to capitalize on your property, but we don’t need another Lakewood Ranch. The existing infrastructure can’t support it, and more people crossing the Cortez bridge is going to make life worse for us. I urge the county commissioners to work with the Prestons to create something other than Lakewood Ranch West. How about organic farming, community supported agriculture and if you need to have a housing development, a 1-2 acre minimum.


    I am 37 years old and was born and raised here in Bradenton! My family has been driving by your fields for more than 40 years going to the beach. It will be sad to see the fields turned into buildings and homes and more concrete. If this change occurs then there are some things that I would like to see happen. This is Florida and we NEED shade trees! Whether it be homes or shopping please have shade trees. I personally would not like to see any commercial buildings unless they are few and small. I would love to have some kind of park and preserve in that area with something for the kids to play on. (with shade trees!!)I think its important to keep it as close to nature as possible. As far as housing goes, it would be nice to be able to buy a parcel of land and build your own house on it with no HOA or subdivision rules to tell you how to do it. You just cant find that option anywhere west of 75 anymore. Last but not least I would like to say thank you to your family for considering what the lifelong residents think.

  5. Janet

    Low rise, old timey houses, lots and lots of open space and some organic farming, husbandry, etc. Rather than a sports mecca, lets make Bradenton a sustainable food mecca. We need local food, and there is no better place to grow it than in Florida. Green space needs to be preserved and protected.

  6. rob

    Just what we DON’T need, more housing & development. They were supposed to build a ‘community’ directly across the street from my house. They TORE out all the Mangroves that were there, and put up 3 condo units (2 per unit) for a $1.2 million each. The outcome, 8 years later, SQUAT. Nothing sold, the rest of the ‘great’ ‘new’ development gone. They can’t even give these places away for $250,000. Now you want to create another development, at least start one, which will be a burden to this area. It already takes us 45mins to drive to beach 3 miles away because of the traffic and plan to spend time in the stores since they are packed. Granted in Aug. & Sept. it eases up a bit, but with this proposal, I can see this all year long. I’m sorry, this is a terrible idea for this area. If it goes ahead, after living here for 26 years, I’ll be selling my home & moving OUT of Bradenton. At least the Robinson Family thought of the community and sold land to county for a reduced price and made it into a preserve, an excellent preserve. Just a thought.

  7. Charles R D.

    I lived in Bradenton from 1968 to 1980 (my mother was the organist for Pete Renard s restaurant. My family and I moved back to Bradenton in 2011 (we live off of Cortez Road) The reason I wanted to move back was the: small town/ beach/ family values/ preservation/ non development atmosphere. Living in Ocala many Years I watched the historical horse industry being overrun by “Planned communities.” It was very sad. Please don’t make a “Lakewood Ranch” west out of this land. Fifty years of history a family’s history is not worth the money or the “development” Please if you must change, Plant trees, parks, public museum, You can highlight your family’s history. Please no more development! Give back to the community that has driven by your or worked in your fields and remember the beauty of nature.

  8. Crystal M.

    Like Carolyn W. said, “Who wouldn’t want to live in an area that emphasizes park-like settings, including lakes, walking and biking trails, and a town-center where neighbors can build a sense of community?” We recently moved to the area for better job opportunities. It would be nice to also see a community built to help others in their community. We are a family of 5 and we are not poor, but we are not rich either. Trying to buy a house is very hard. It would be nice to see you build a community that would offer assistance for young couples wanting to buy their first house, but are unable to because they do not have enough of a down payment to do so. We both have steady jobs and incomes, but trying to save for a down payment is very hard. It would be nice to be able to live in a nice, safe, affordable community; Without having to settle for a run-down, fixer-upper because it has a low down payment. There needs to be more places that offer help to families in the community. I think what your doing is a wonderful idea!!! Just please don’t be another really expensive community that is unaffordable for the working class people. Thank you…

  9. Jeanne W.

    Cortez Road continues to be highly traveled with people going to and from the island. This is good for local economy, but the proposed development would severely impact the already serious conversion of traffic, not in a positive way. Residents on the west end of Cortez Road, including those on Anna Maria Island, would not welcome the new condos and strip malls because of the additional traffic and problems they would bring to our area.

    This area is currently a small oasis of farmland and serene landscape which we truly appreciate. The commercial atmosphere is not what we need or want. Only the developers will benefit from this project.

    Jeanne – Paradise Bay Estates – property owner

  10. Andy R.

    Whiting, what a fantastic project you and the family have decided to undertake. I’m thrilled to see you take this on as a master planed project and I know you’ll leave a fantastic project behind for future generations of Manatee County residents to appreciate.

    I’m especially happy to see you and the family doing the project yourself, rather than selling the property off in parcels for other’s with shorter term interests to develop. In some ways what you’re doing is like what I did with our apartment complex on the former site of one of our tree farms in OneCo, albeit on a much smaller scale. My intention there was to raise the quality of affordable/workforce housing in Manatee County and to show it can be done profitably without government subsidy. While my timing wasn’t great (we were just starting lease-up when the housing market imploded 5 years ago), we survived and now things are really coming together as far as our long term goal was envisioned.

    Good luck, and I’ll be there to provide whatever support I can. Please let me know if can be of any help/guidance, especially in the areas of multifamily construction and as far as multifamily rental housing is concerned.

  11. Deborah K.

    Please remember to look at the surrounding infrastructure. What roads can handle the increased volume. Existing communities like bayshore gardens are already struggling, these areas need support not competition. We don’t need more shopping and strip malls look at all the current open available space. We need good high paying jobs not more retail clerks

    1. Sherrie .

      As a homeowner in Bayshore Gardens on Florida Blvd (small 2 lane road without sidewalks) the increased traffic volume from your proposed development and the Long Bar Point will greatly impact a lot of lives both human and our wildlife. Please consider the impact your development will have on West Bradenton.

  12. Marilyn B.

    I like what you are doing, asking the citys opinion, I knew people that lived and worked on the farm, and I love the little bit of country in the city, but if it has to go, you are doing the right thing, no fancy hotels or tall condos to ruin the landscape, so that regular people can still see the ocean, I used to live in Holmes Beach, but its built up so you can barely see the water when you drive down the street along the beach, they were never supposed to build on the ocean side. I knew the Pinto family and the Kenny Hawkins family, do right by them, no hotels, just nice housing, affordable and not like Lakewood Ranch, which is way too expensive. Ive been here 35 yrs, my nieces were born here, my daughter was raised here,

  13. Heather W.

    Thanks so much for asking for community input. I would love to see something like Robinson Preserve…I realize we need some new development, but it would be wonderful if a portion of the property could be used for passive recreation. Robinson is packed every weekend and there is definitely demand for another one.

    1. Admin

      Our vision includes a variety of amenities. Open space and passive recreation will be in our plans.

  14. Carolyn W.

    Robert and I are so excited to know you and your family are considering enhancing the NW Bradenton landscape with an urban development highlighting the best aspects of a Florida lifestyle! Who wouldn’t want to live in an area that emphasizes park-like settings, including lakes, walking and biking trails, and a town-center where neighbors can build a sense of community? If we were able to hand-pick a family to undertake such a task, there’s no better than YOURS – a family with over 100 years of history in the area, high integrity and values, family-centric visionaries with whom I would entrust such an important project. May God bless you with your endeavors, and provide you with smooth sailing along the way!

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