MANATEE COUNTY — On a parcel where not much exists but a forest of trees, a trio of East County developers will plant their own vision for the future.
Developers Shelly Crofut, Howard Sadwin and John Newsome, collectively known as SM Duck Dog 2 LLC, plan to bring a bustling commercial center to more than 14 acres at the southwest corner of Lorraine Road and State Road 64.
The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners last week unanimously approved a rezone and a preliminary site plan for the property, which includes about 105,000 square feet of retail, office and commercial space.
“Now’s the right time (to get approvals),” Crofut said. “We wanted it to be ready once the economy gets back. In the future, it’s a major intersection. We’re very pleased it’s moving along.”
The preliminary site plan includes space for a gas station, a drug store, a grocery and some office spaces, among others.
Although developers received approval to move forward, they still are several administrative approvals away from being able to begin construction on the project and have no specific time frame for getting started with development.
Crofut said the company now would reconnect with potential tenants.
Commissioners unanimously approved a request to construct a 175-foot monocross communications tower near the front of Christian Retreat’s campus.
Cell tower developer Tech Tower Properties will build the tower for T-Mobile.
Christian Retreat Pastor Phil Derstine said the tower will provide much-needed cellular service to residents.
“Everybody’s excited about it,” Derstine said. “Even the symbol of the cross is a blessing to us. This is a win, win.”
Derstine said Christian Retreat has made every effort to accommodate residents’ wishes, including restricting the use of uplighting on the cross and restricting the proportions of the monocross itself.
Should the church need to expand, Christian Retreat also has preliminary plans for a new sanctuary that would make the new monocross a key focal point.
“The cross (would) end up being in the front yard of the parking area of the new sanctuary,” Derstine said.
Tech Tower Properties owner Todd Schlemmer estimated construction on the project would begin in six to eight months. The actual construction of the tower, he said, will take about 30 days.
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