Bradenton hopes to fill upstairs spaces in downtown buildings

There are restaurants, bars and new construction happening in Downtown Bradenton, but one thing is missing. 

"Downtown needs residents upstairs," said Cork Miller. 

Cork Miller owns Cork's Cigar Bar. Over the last 10 years, he's seen new life breathed back into the area, but he said upstairs apartments would bring an even bigger boost to the area. 

"Your downtown becomes more vibrant. There’s more of a hometown feel. Wherever they go they are going to bring their guests back here," said Miller. 

Some of the spaces are empty. Others are used for storage. Each caught the city's attention. 

"Just hearing from property owners and walking down the streets we noticed a lot of these second floors aren’t being used. We said we need to come up with a program to fix that," said Jesus Nino. 

Jesus Nino the City's Program Manager of the Economic Development Department said that program is a Residential Conversion Grant. It'll give money to business owners who transform their upstairs spaces into apartment. 
The City will match up to $6,240 per unit up to 4. 
That means owners could have $25,000 to help with expenses. 

It's not just downtown that can benefit from this grant. It’s available to the City's 3 community redevelopment districts. The city is hoping to expand their reach and draw even more people back to Bradenton.”

"They can live here, work here. It’s a win win for everybody," said Nino. 

The hope is to attract a new generation of residents. 

"We want more people working, playing, living but also contributing to the vibrancy and and energy of downtown Bradenton," said Johnette Isham. 

Johnette Isham the Executive Director of Realize Bradenton said it'll help continue Bradenton's new growth. 

"We know that that’s going to continue the momentum downtown and continue the national providence that Bradenton is now getting all across the country," said Isham. 

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