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Date of Issue: August 30, 2007

ManaSota-88 sees opportunity in real estate slowdown

A environmental non-profit organization is calling on the Manatee County Board of Commissioners to investigate another purchase of property on Perico Island.

The group, ManaSota-88, fought St. Joe Company’s planned SevenShores condominium development on Perico on the east side of the Anna Maria Island Bridge when it was in the planning stages.

Now, with the slowdown in Florida real estate development and sales, ManaSota-88 sees an opportunity to purchase the 352-acre SevenShores property for the public.

Earlier this summer, the St. Joe Company announced it was “suspending further sales of its SevenShores condominium units on Perico Island” after a disappointing 18 months of sales, but that the planned site development work would continue. When completed, SevenShores is to have 686 units in 12 mid-rise buildings.

Company officials also stressed that the property was not for sale.

Still, Glenn Compton, chair of ManaSota-88, said last week, “We are optimistic that the property has not been developed. This allows for an opportunity to not have a high-rise development there, which is opposed by the vast majority of people living in the surrounding communities.”

SevenShores’ history has been a controversial one, with St. Joe and Bradenton locked for years in a battle over annexation and development with the Island communities, Manatee County, ManaSota-88 and environmentalists.

ManaSota-88, in addition to raising environmental concerns about the project, argued in legal claims that SevenShores would increase traffic and put a burden on government infrastructure. The group also raised concerns about density in the hurricane evacuation zone.

Earlier this year, as part of the settlement agreement in the dispute between Manatee County, St. Joe and the city of Bradenton, the county picked up 175 acres of wetlands and uplands on Perico Island for preservation. The land, which cost the county $6 million, lies to the east of the SevenShores site.

Compton said ManaSota-88 members would discuss at an upcoming meeting how to lobby for adding the SevenShores land to the preserve.

Manatee County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and opportunities to purchase waterfront property are few, Compton said.

ManaSota-88 will meet at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Bayfront Community Center, 803 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For more information about ManaSota-88, call 941-966-0659 or go to www.manasota88.org.