Bradenton, Fla., to Have New Parking Garage Built

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Ron Allen's NDC Construction Co. can soon add a second parking garage to its list of downtown accomplishments.

The Bradenton City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to award Bradenton-based NDC and its team with the $5-million-to-$6-million job of building a five-story, roughly 500-space parking garage as part of downtown's future judicial center complex.

The council settled on Allen's firm after hearing presentations from his team and another team headed by Tampa-based Turner Construction Co. and local developer Mike Carter. Council members said they liked both presentations and noted that Allen and Carter are well-known, quality developers with downtown investments.

But council members backed NDC because its team includes more local people with downtown experience. Landscape architect John Moody worked with the Downtown Development Authority on redevelopment projects like the Village of the Arts and the revamped Old Main Street and Barcarrota Boulevard.

The local firm of Wilson Miller, the project's civil engineer, has experience throughout the county, and also is responsible for site and utility work for the judicial center project.

NDC has built some of downtown's most high-profile buildings, including Manatee County's administrative complex and parking garage, and Bradenton City Centre. NDC is also building Bradenton Village and developing the Sandpile.

"We're here on a daily basis," Allen said during his presentation. "My office is two blocks away. We want to continue to help build a better community than what we have."

Carl Callahan, city clerk and treasurer, said contract negotiations will start immediately. The city hopes to see construction begin next spring and wrap up in six months.

Rick Fawley of Fawley Bryant Architects designed the Mediterranean-style garage that city and downtown leaders want to see built as an attractive, pedestrian-friendly piece of a redeveloping downtown -- and not a bland parking structure. The garage is slated to go between 11th and 12th streets west, north of Eighth Avenue West and south of the Walcaid Building and law offices along Sixth Avenue West.

The city and county are working together on this project. The city will direct construction while the county funds it through annual payments to the city for up to 20 years.

The county plans to use at least 300 spaces for judicial center employees and leave 200 for the public.

Both Allen and Carter said their plans include other uses for the ground-level floor of the parking garage, such as retail shops. The plan got high marks from Downtown Development Authority executive director Bill Theroux, who said such a move would help push Old Main Street's revitalization farther south.

During presentations Wednesday, Turner Construction Co. pointed out that it is the project manager for the judicial center and that giving it the bid for the parking garage would makes sense.

Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey cast the lone vote for the Turner-Carter team, citing its plan to bid out the concrete and foundation work, the most costly part of the project. She said that could lead to a lower price.

But Councilman Gene Gallo said a benefit of NDC is its partnership with Orlando-area firm Finfrock. That firm touts itself as an industry leader in the development of precast concrete structures, such as parking garages.

Overall, five firms placed bids. The selection committee, composed of city department heads, narrowed the list to three. The firm of W.G. Mills Inc. dropped out last week after winning a Sarasota project.

The city did not ask the firms to submit a projected price. Instead, it requested their credentials and a presentation before the council.

"We want to reasonably control what kind of product we get," Callahan said.