Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Village of the Arts Hopes for Expansion

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Village of the Arts Hopes for Expansion

Article excerpt

BRADENTON

The city of Bradenton may expand its kitschy Village of the Arts, where home-based studios and other small businesses are allowed to include frontage on two thoroughfares -- 14th Street West (U.S. Business 41) and Ninth Avenue West.

The proposed expansion would give the arts district a more prominent presence on the commercial corridors to lure in passing traffic. It could also enhance the chances of the city attracting redevelopment for vacant buildings and lots on both streets.

Before the city established the village in 1999, the neighborhood south of downtown experienced blight, crime and overall decline.

Now the walkable community boasts more than 30 businesses in brightly decorated bungalows and cottages including art galleries, cafes and shops.

"The main benefit is to work out of your house and operate a business," said Carrie Price, vice president of the Artists Guild of Manatee. Price and her husband, Preston Whaley Jr., live above their yoga studio.

The guild would like the village to have more prominent signage on Ninth and 14th, Price said. "We're a little bit tucked behind" those major roads. "It will give us a visual presence."

Expanding the village's boundaries to create more "live-work" opportunities may also encourage redevelopment of vacant properties on both thoroughfares.

Price would like to see a developer build art studios with loft apartments.

A resident committee working with the city on the plan is also looking favorably at possibly including the west side of 14th Street for more uniformity.

"It will give you a sense of place," city planning director Timothy Polk said.

The proposed expansion, which could be ready for the City Council's consideration before the end of the year, is also prompting other ideas.

Village residents would like the city to improve pedestrian safety on Eighth Avenue West at 12th Street. …

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