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Date of Issue: January 10, 2008

Big work going on in northern Cortez

A new business, new buildings going up, a new bridge — it’s all part of a $17 million project along the north side of Cortez Road in the historic fishing village of Cortez.

Reaction to the new massive spread, which drew little opposition during county planning hearings, is almost universal dismay among villagers. But the builder is sure all that will pass when the job is completed.

It is a three-building complex that will accommodate 272 boats in dry storage and 10 at slips. It is a condominium arrangement, with storage spaces now being marketed. Owner, developer and seller is the Bradenton Boat Club, organized for the purpose.

It is the sixth such boatery built in Florida under subcontract by Bellingham Marine, a Puget Sound-based company described as the biggest in the United States. Construction contractor is J.H. Allen Associates.

Owner is Norm Burke, who has offices in Naples. He and his firm recently completed a similar facility in downtown Naples, he said, and “it fits in just fine.” He promised the Cortez buildings will be just as acceptable when they are completed, painted and landscaped. “People see just the skeletons and metal exteriors now,” he said, “but it will be very different with 35-foot palm trees and grass and shrubbery.”

Land access is off Cortez Road and from 123rd Street, while boat traffic will continue to be via the canal that connects with Anna Maria Sound near the Cortez Bridge.

Crossing the canal is an old humpback bridge on 127th Street, and that structure will be replaced, Burke said. It has been condemned by the state. Its replacement will be a bit higher and include a sidewalk, made possible by new technology that requires less concrete, so less space. All will be in the same right of way as the present bridge.

Bridge work will begin about the first of April, Burke said, and take from 30 to 60 days. Traffic will be detoured along back roads during construction.

Construction of the boat condos proceeds meanwhile, Burke said, noting that the first one is getting its “skin” while the second, the largest, is under way and the third will be toward the rear of the four-acre site which was formerly C&C Marina. 

Originally planned for the site were 21 residences and a marina, but boat storage emerged as a better use of the property as boat facilities dwindled across the country, Burke said. Manatee County officials agreed.

Sales of storage spaces are under way now with Allen Goddard as general manager and three or four other employees there. Prices depend on the boat and range from $65,000 to $115,000 for dry storage, $130,000 for a wet slip.