After years of negotiations, debate and uncertainty, a construction trailer is sitting on the grounds of the old Pink Palace.
That trailer has the community abuzz. Dave Gustafson, executive director of Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority, said he's had nearly two dozen people stop him to talk about the construction trailer since its arrival this week.
The trailer has already created a heck of a buzz," Gustafson said. "People are coming uo and saying 'Wow it’s already happeing.'"
The project is expected to bring about 200 construction workers downtown over the course of the renovations and will cost more than $15 million. Once it is open the 119-room hotel will bring guests to the riverfront and all of its new amenities.
Work began on the brownfield clean-up before the construction trailer even arrived. Engineers and architects have also been working on the site, Gustafson said.
The brownfield clean-up is expected to be completed in a week. Selected demolition will follow on portions of the building that can not be saved. Widewaters Group is expected to rehabilitate the crumbling Riverpark Hotel, but ears of neglect, water and termite damage means that some of the hotel can not be saved.
Once the group has completed construction, gone will be the pink hue, the crumbling stucco and the broken windows. In it's place will stand a 119-room Hampton Inn. But there's much to be done before the hotel can open next summer or fall.
The most visible construction will begin in about 60 days when the scaffolding goes up and the windows are taken down. Of course a lot of renovation work will take place on the inside.
Still Gustafson said people will be able to watch the transformation even from a distance as worker remove "a tremendous amount of material" from the site.
The developers have even promised to host a ground breaking event for the rehab project, something they don't typically do, Gustafson said. But given the excitement around the project and what it means for the downtown, city leaders convinced the group it was an important milestone.
"It’s so darn exciting," Gustafson said.
The downtown development authority expects the hotel to bring in visitors, of course, and coupled with that they expect there will be new restaurants and retailers downtown.