300,000-s.f. shopping center approved for Manatee, Fla.

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Jun. 6--MANATEE -- A new 300,000-square-foot shopping center in Parrish proposed by Benderson Development received unanimous support and high praise Thursday from the Manatee County Commission.

Creekside Commons, planned for the intersection of Erie Road and U.S. 301 across from Albertsons, is described as a multiple-use anchor retail center that will incorporate a variety of boutiques, restaurants and banks.

Misty Servia, a planning department manager with King Engineering Associates Inc., said the project is a combined effort between Benderson Development and the surrounding Parrish community.

"This is a record for me. We had seven neighborhood meetings for this project just since I became involved," Servia said, adding that Creekside Commons will have a positive impact on the county's economy. "We estimate this project will bring in 200 new construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs."

Along with the addition of new jobs to the area, Servia said Benderson Development has committed to investing about $5.1 million in road projects around the development, including a bypass, or "loop road," that will alleviate congestion at the Erie Road and U.S. 301 intersection.

County Commissioner Ron Getman said Benderson Development truly understands what it takes to make a project successful.

"There was a movie with Billy Crystal called 'City Slickers,' where they were all trying to figure out what 'it' is," Getman said, laughing. "Well, (Benderson Development) has figured out what 'it' is. That is, getting neighbors involved and having a very professional presentation."

After a meeting with more than 200 nearby residents, Benderson Development managed to calm many people's concerns about future traffic congestion, said Ben Jordan, president of the Parrish Civic Association.

"This project is even better now because of the things that they've done and come back with," Jordan said. "And I think it is an excellent idea to extend the loop road behind Albertsons to Old Tampa Road because it is going to save us a lot of money down the road."

One of the main requests from members of the Parrish Civic Association is for Benderson Development to bring new restaurants to the area, Jordan said.

"Right now, if you want to go to a full-service, sit-down restaurant where you can have a glass of wine with your meal, you are driving south, over the river," Jordan said, jokingly adding there is only one kind of restaurant that Parrish doesn't need. "We also talked about no more pizza restaurants out there."

In other action, the commission approved plans for 112-room Comfort Inn proposed for the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and 30th Avenue East.

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