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Bradenton Breaks Ground On Riverwalk

The Bradenton Riverwalk -- a project that has been in the works since the early 2000s -- has finally come into fruition with a groundbreaking ceremony on September 19th.

Residents, city officials and local businesses gathered at Rossi Park at 301 3rd Ave. W. to celebrate the start of the $6.2 million enhancement project.

A 1.5-mile stretch of the riverfront at the park faces renovations with the addition of a nationally recognized skatepark, canoe and kayak launches, sand volley ball courts, butterfly gardens, interactive art, a water park and splash park and even an outdoor amphitheater.

“There's an enormous amount of possibilities along the riverfront,” says David Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority. “We plan to have several competitions and may even have the ability to host future X Games at this location.”

A blues festival has already been planned for the new outdoor theater area for December 2012. Upon completion, the Riverwalk and its events are expected to have a significant economic impact on Bradenton and the Tampa Bay region.

“The economic impact will be huge and, really, it's just an asset that has never been utilized and will strongly affect downtown Manatee County, as well as the rest of the Tampa Bay region all the way from Sarasota to St. Pete,” says Gustafson. “We've seen the success of riverwalks in other parts of the country such as Jacksonville, Tampa and Tennessee and see a lot of promise in this project.”

Recognizing the importance of sports and culture within a community, the Bradenton City Council and the Downtown Development Authority Board decided to make the investment due to recent studies, focusing on the addition of a another important cultural asset to the community; $1.2 million of the budget will come from tax increment financing (TIF) while an investment has been made into a $5 million bond that the city will pay off over the next 20 years. The project is expected to be complete by September 2012.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: David Gustafson, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority
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