Bradenton Herald: Bradenton Officials Grant Extension to Developer of Old Manatee Inns Site on 14th Street West

April 13, 2016 | By

This article was originally published by the Bradenton Herald (April 13, 2016).

BRADENTON — A week after the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority recommended giving Beneficial Communities another year to secure tax credits to develop the old Manatee Inns site in the 1400 block of 14th Street West, the Bradenton City Council on Wednesday followed suit.

The council, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, voted unanimously to accept the DDA recommendation to stay the course.

Beneficial’s proposed 80-unit live-and-work development, geared toward attracting young professionals straight out of college as well as new artists for the Village of the Arts, is seen as crucial to spur redevelopment for the 14th Street West neighborhood.

Beneficial last year missed out on federal tax credits it says it needs to help finance the project, and it has again applied for the credits.

The 9-percent tax credits are equal to $1.5 million a year for 10 years of tax writeoffs to an investor that buys them. Beneficial developer Ken Bowron Jr. said it equals $15 million of equity to the developer so there is limited liability in building a $16 million project such as the Village Lofts project.

Beneficial said private investment would defeat the goals of creating an affordable housing project. Private investment, they say, would drive the rent prices up well beyond the project’s goals.

The DDA renegotiated the purchase price from $700,000 to $800,000 and created a stipulation the city may pursue cash offers until Sept. 1, when Beneficial will prepare for the tax credit process. The council accepted those stipulations.

Bowron said Beneficial will also look at 4-percent bond options in the next few months.

“We are committed to this development,” said Bowron. “We want to see it come to fruition.”

The 4-percent bond would not provide the same level of equity as a 9-percent tax credit, but Bowron said it is an option and the company would have to find other means of funding before moving forward.

“A 4-percent bond would cut that equity in half,’ he said. “So we would need to find ways to fill that gap and there are local and state subsidies we can pursue such as (Community Development Block Grant) funds.”

Beneficial attorney Casey Colburn said Beneficial was unhappy with the “subjective” nature of how Florida Housing Financing Corp. selects winning projects for its tax credits.

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