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Premier design year in Lakewood Ranch

Manatee County will spend 2019 planning future improvements at Premier.

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  • | 10:00 a.m. January 2, 2019
  • East County
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When Manatee County commissioners agreed they would purchase 74.5 acres north of Premier Campus in September 2018, they saw a conceptual plan showing circles where park amenities and government service buildings might go.

Now, it’s time to fill those circles.

In 2019, Manatee County staff members and consultant David Bishop, of Ugarte Consulting, will develop a final site plan for the 238-acre site. It includes the 127-acre Premier Sports Campus the county has bought from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch and the 36 acres immediately north of Premier, along with the additional 74.5 acres farther north.

“It’s an art, not a science to figure out where (everything) goes,” Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said of park amenities and government services and buildings. “We could have a library that’s a joint facility with government offices on the upper floor. We haven’t gotten there yet (in design).”

In 2019, Manatee County officials and a consultant will work to create an overall site plan for the larger 238-acre site including and around  Premier Sports Campus.
In 2019, Manatee County officials and a consultant will work to create an overall site plan for the larger 238-acre site including and around Premier Sports Campus.

Hunzeker said the county is not considering private endeavors, like restaurants, on the property. However, there will be government services, such as veterans services, permitting and possibly a satellite location for the tax collector’s office.

Charlie Bishop, Manatee’s director of property management, said the consultant will meet with representatives from various county departments, including parks, libraries, property management and administration, to get feedback on space needs for each.

“With that, we’ll work in tandem with the consultant, the commissioners and the public to determine the best design to meet the community’s expectations and the county’s requirements,” Bishop said.

Bishop said the public provided input during the county’s master parks planning process, but it will also hold community outreach meetings before plans are complete.

Per Manatee’s land purchase contract with Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the site will have an aquatics center. Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker said there likely will be public soccer and recreational fields, as well as pickleball and tennis courts.

“We try to provide a variety of recreational activities and to recognize our residents desire a variety of recreational outlets,” Hunsicker said. 

He said there likely will be soccer and baseball fields for public play, pickleball and tennis courts and other to-be-determined amenities.

Bishop said the county is still early in its planning stages and he expects many details to be worked out in the next six to eight months. Manatee County commissioners will have to approve a site plan to present to the public.

The plan may be adjusted according to community feedback. After that, the county will be ready to move forward with construction.

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


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