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East County Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2018 1 year ago

County buys more Lakewood Ranch land

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The $4.66 purchase of 75 acres in Lakewood Ranch may lead to government services hub.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker slid a map of an approximately 238-acre site across his office table and pointed to a series of colored shapes designating possible uses.

They represented the future of government services and amenities in Lakewood Ranch.

On Sept. 11, Manatee County commissioners approved the $4.66 million purchase of 74.5 acres north of the Premier Sports Campus.

The property, located at the northeast corner of the future Post Boulevard and future Rangeland Parkway extension, could become a government services hub with park amenities such as a racquet sports complex, an aquatics center and a gymnasium, as well as a library and buildings for government services.

There’s even an event lawn and softball and baseball complexes being proposed.

“This could change,” Hunzeker said of preliminary plans, which include the larger 127-acre Premier Sports Campus site and the adjacent 36 acres involved in the original purchase. “This is conceptually what we would do.”

Commissioners approved moving forward with negotiations in May, and another 21.5 acres had been added to the deal since.

Manatee County spokesman Nicholas Azzara said the county intends to engage the public through social media and other means to see what services and facilities it would like to have available.

“It will be an important piece of the process to get feedback,” Azzara said.

Hunzeker said the first step, however, was to acquire the land.

Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch had given Manatee County the option to buy the additional land when it acquired Premier Sports Campus and the additional 36-acre parcel in December 2017.

For the newly purchased land, Hunzeker said it likely will include Neighborhood Services, Veterans Services, Property Management and Building and Development Services, where individuals can apply for permits.

He also is talking with constitutional officers to see what other services may be placed there, such as a satellite Tax Collector’s office.

Hunzeker said he hopes the project can be complete in five years, with the master plan finished in 2019 and construction beginning in 2020. 

The first phase likely will include construction of park facilities and the library, he said.

In total, build-out may cost up to $30 million.

The property itself will be acquired with park impact fees. Hunzeker said as the county determines which services will on the site, it will better be able to allocate funding sources. For example, the library can be paid for primarily with library impact fees. The Utilities Department and Building and Development Services departments are self-sustaining.

Hunzeker said Manatee County’s existing government building at 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton will remain the county’s “home.” Based on growth, though, Lakewood Ranch will be the center of the county in 20 years when Manatee’s population is expected to reach 500,000.

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