Hoping to make the long-dormant Marion Anderson brownfield more attractive to potential developers, the city wants to buy two adjacent parcels, which have been foreclosed upon, and add them to the brownfield site.
“The brownfield has been identified as a potential candidate for jobs and economic growth,” said David Brain, chairman of the Newtown CRA, which recommended that the commission buy the properties.
Owen Motors had operated its business on the two parcels, which encompass nearly two acres at 21st Street and U.S. 301.
But after the mortgage holder, Stearns Bank, seized the property, it has been vacant.
The City Commission voted to allow the city manager to pay up to appraised value for the property. An appraisal will soon be conducted. The commission will have to sign off on any purchase, however, before it takes place.
The brownfield itself does not have U.S. 301 frontage, like the adjacent parcels.
“For years, we’ve struggled to do something on (the) Marion Anderson (brownfield),” said Mayor Kelly Kirschner. “Frontage on 301 — that’s the most valuable asset to redevelop.”
About four years ago, Wal-Mart had proposed building a store on the brownfield site. The company would have paid for the cleanup.
But a national anti-Wal-Mart group came to Sarasota and began a petition drive to defeat the proposed store.
As a result, a voter referendum was passed that raised the minimum wage to $10.70 per hour for any company employing more than 50 people and receiving more than $100,000 in subsidies or tax abatements per year. Florida’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Only Wal-Mart met those parameters. The retailer eventually pulled out of the brownfield site, which has sat empty ever since.
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