WaterColor inspired: Manatee County developers look to emulate ‘picket fence feel’ of 30A

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 05:20 PM.

"You can travel there, park your car and have no reason to get back in for the rest of the day," Ervin said. "The lifestyle and pace is different — not just the construction. It has a very picket-fence feel."

Perhaps the most vital aspect of the Long Bar Pointe plan for Southwest Florida would be the addition of a new five-star hotel — filling a hole in the market that local tourism officials have worried about for years.

There are no hotels in Manatee County rated above three stars, which allows luxury Sarasota hoteliers like the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota to pick up bookings from Bradenton-related tourism, including many athletes visiting IMG Sports Academy .

Although the 250-room resort at Long Bar Pointe would satisfy that perceived need, officials at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau declined to comment on the project, which has sparked tension with local environmental groups.

Also in the tourism vein, the Long Bar Pointe resort is expected to include a 70,000-square-foot convention center and chapel for destination weddings.

That is an area of the tourism business that Anna Maria Island has tapped for years, drawing a national and international audience as a wedding site.

"This will be the single most important project in Bradenton for the next decade," said Stan Rutstein, a commercial real estate specialist with the Re/Max Alliance Group. "The core of Bradenton really needs to get going again, and this will drive that."

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