The City of Bradenton may soon have another riverfront park or a new rowing facility complete with a historic clubhouse. According to a recent article on the Bradenton Herald, home builder John Neal of Lakewood Ranch donated seven large residential parcels of land in Ballard Park to the city. Within those parcels there is a large historic home that is now boarded up. In fact, that entire section has turned to blight and could use a conversion.
While the Bradenton Herald described the conveyance of property from John Neal to the city as a donation, Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune characterized it as a sale. What is known about the land is that it was foreclosed upon by Orion Bank and Neal bought it for $269,000 in 2011, which is slightly less than what the City of Bradenton paid. Neal says that the value of the land as listed on the deed is more than $1.3 million.
The idea of a building a rowing facility was mentioned by Neal, but Council Member Patrick Roff has indicated that he would prefer to take the largest portion of the land and turn it into a passive park with a fishing spot, as well as a kayak and canoe launch area. Roff has been proactive in identifying blighted areas of town and transforming them into nice public areas.
John Neal is a renowned home builder who specializes in luxury homes that reflect the Southwest Florida sensibility. He explained that of all the homes in the parcels now owned by the city, only the historic white house is worth remodeling. He also thinks that turning the historic home into a clubhouse for rowing enthusiasts will require the city to raise money, and he is ready to help Bradenton in this regard.