Zon­ing code has Braden­ton fac­ing a car wash dilemma on 14th St.

The Bradenton Herald - - Front Page - BY MARK YOUNG my­[email protected]­ton.com

How much tax­payer money should be spent to spur the re­de­vel­op­ment of 14th Street West in Braden­ton? The ques­tion sur­faced when a po­ten­tial buyer wanted to re­open the for­mer Amer­i­can Car Care Cen­ter and car wash at 1505 14th St. W. only to find out that a car wash is no longer al­lowed un­der the city’s zon­ing code adopted in 2010.

Au­to­mo­tive-re­lated busi­nesses and so­cial ser­vices fa­cil­i­ties such as Sal­va­tion Army do not con­form to the cur­rent sub­ur­ban vil­lage codes de­signed to en­cour­age a pedes­trian and bi­cy­clist friendly en­vi­ron­ment. Uses are lim­ited to re­tail, res­i­den­tial, mixed use, of­fices and restau­rants.

The ex­ist­ing busi­nesses were grand­fa­thered in, but if they close for more than a year, that busi­ness can no longer re­open.

The car wash closed in 2016 and is noth­ing more than an­other fenced-in, va­cant, prop­erty quickly be­com­ing slum and blight, and leav­ing yet an­other poor first im­pres­sion while driv­ing through one of the city’s key gate­ways.

The is­sue with a car wash is that there is noth­ing more it can be than a car wash, so of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing us­ing tax dol­lars to de­mol­ish the build­ing, ul­ti­mately for the ben­e­fit of a pri­vate owner.

The owner’s ad­dress is listed as be­ing in Jer­sey City, New Jer­sey, and the prop­erty is cur­rently listed for sale at $500,000. The list­ing clearly in­forms po­ten­tial buy­ers that the car wash can no longer be op­er­ated as such un­der city codes. The in­vest­ment from a pri­vate de­vel­oper to pay for the land and de­mol­ish the build­ing to start over with a new de­vel­op­ment would be sig­nif­i­cant and makes the prop­erty a tough sell.

The city in­vests dol­lars into pri­vate de­vel­op­ment in a va­ri­ety of ways, ei­ther through in-

‘‘ OB­VI­OUSLY, A CAR WASH IS HARD TO CON­VERT INTO SOME­THING ELSE, SO THE PREF­ER­ENCE WOULD BE TO TEAR IT DOWN. Cather­ine Hart­ley, plan­ning and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor

cen­tives or grants, and has pur­chased prop­er­ties in the past for the sole in­tent of de­mol­ish­ing a build­ing to re­move blight and en­cour­age re­de­vel­op­ment.

This sit­u­a­tion is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but not be­yond the scope of that type of re­de­vel­op­ment.

“The thing is, the city has done a tremen­dous amount of work in or­der to get rid of uses like car washes on 14th Street,” said Cather­ine Hart­ley, plan­ning and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor. “The whole point of all that work was to even­tu­ally get rid of used car lots, car washes and so­cial ser­vices.

“By not let­ting these uses reestab­lish af­ter they have been closed for a year, they can ei­ther be torn down or con­verted to a per­mit­ted use. Ob­vi­ously, a car wash is hard to con­vert into some­thing else, so the pref­er­ence would be to tear it down.”

The city could re­zone the prop­erty to make it an al­low­able use, but Hart­ley said it would be counter pro­duc­tive to what the city de­cided in 2010.

Ward 3 Coun­cil­man Pa­trick Roff said he just wants to see faster busi­ness growth on 14th Street. He ac­knowl­edged the fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­vided to other busi­nesses on the cor­ri­dor, “But 14th is not the most de­sir­able busi­ness cor­ri­dor in the city of Braden­ton. The fact is there was a buyer and it seems like we are get­ting in our own way. We need to get some move­ment.”

Hart­ley said she will do what­ever the coun­cil asks her to do, but said it would be con­trary to the city’s vi­sion.

“It starts to chip away at the vi­sion that was adopted,” she said. “One might as well change the whole cor­ri­dor back to sub­ur­ban strip com­mer­cial. But with that, they get uses they have clearly said they don’t want like so­cial ser­vices, an­other Sal­va­tion Army, an­other Turn­ing Points, an­other food bank, an­other car lot and so on.”

Hart­ley re­it­er­ated what coun­cil mem­bers have com­plained about for years and that the orig­i­nal zon­ing cre­ated “a highly con­cen­trated area of poverty. I’m not sure al­low­ing more of the same in or­der to get this one busi­ness run­ning is the an­swer. But the coun­cil will tell me what their vi­sion is, and I’ll make it hap­pen.”

TIF­FANY TOMP­KINS ttomp­[email protected]­ton.com

A buyer wanted to re­open the car wash at 1505 14th St. W. only to find out un­der city codes a car wash is no longer an al­lowed use af­ter it was closed for more than a year. Given that build­ing can’t be used for any­thing else, the city must con­sider spend­ing tax­payer dol­lars to tear it down so it has a bet­ter chance to sell for al­low­able uses per­ti­nent to the city’s vi­sion for the cor­ri­dor.

TIF­FANY TOMP­KINS ttomp­[email protected]­ton.com

This va­cant car wash at 1505 14th St. W. is listed for sale at $500,000. The list­ing in­forms po­ten­tial buy­ers that the car wash can no longer be op­er­ated as such un­der city codes.

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