Villages at Riverwalk Is Coming to East Bradenton


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, October 3rd, 2015 – Another reason has just been added as to why Manatee Gardens and its neighborhoods should stay prominent among prospective residential buyers in search of affordable homes for sale in East Bradenton. The city’s planning commission unanimously approved mid-September of 2015 a rezoning of two parcels just west of the Manatee Gardens’ area to “urban village” from its erstwhile classification of “medium density residential.”

This approval paves the way for the Villages of Riverwalk, a multifamily housing project located just east of Bradenton’s downtown. With the project’s go-ahead, the Glazier-Gates Park partly occupying its site will be moved northwest and serve as an eastern extension of the popular Riverwalk Park.

Some local residents have opposed the transfer of this park dedicated to two early Manatee pioneers and part of the downtown of the former Town of Manatee. With the city commission rezoning approval, their opposition appears moot and academic.

The Villages at Riverwalk development also took over the site of the proposed high-rise condominiums Riviera Southshore which had been approved almost a decade ago as a downtown mixed-use property. The condo project, however, collapsed as its St. Pete-based developer was unable to hurdle the challenges of the last Great Recession and defaulted on the project’s loan.

Seasoned developer takes over

Villages at Riverwalk Is Coming to East Bradenton

The failed project’s lender, Wells Fargo, which foreclosed the property located between Riverside Drive and Manatee Avenue, sold the site early in 2015 for $4 million to an Atlanta-based developer, Robert Hatfield, who has sought city commission approval for the Villages at Riverwalk. Hatfield appears to have an ample war chest to pursue completion of this new project as his company sold for $31.5 million its newly built 179-unit Riversong Apartments north of Bradenton’s downtown center in July 2015.

Near this luxury apartment, Hatfield had also developed a condominium—the Promenade at Riverwalk. The condo units here at their launch around the late 2000s had starting prices in the $300s which more than doubled to the $700s at the height of the property boom prior to the last recession. This condominium project, however, went into foreclosure following the economic downturn and saw liquidation prices diving to as low as the $100s.

Worker-friendly community

Having the proceeds from the Riversong sale, Hatfield now looks well-entrenched for the Villages at Riverwalk project. Hatfield has also partnered with Bradenton-based NDC Construction for this development which is envisioned as a “worker-friendly” mixed-use community.

All told, the Villages at Riverwalk will occupy some 20 acres on the southern banks of the Manatee River. Hatfield and NDC have on the project’s drawing boards some 490 townhomes and condominiums. It will not only bring multifamily housing but also provide some new retail space to serve its residents and likewise those at the neighboring Manatee Gardens area. The developers are now readying their spades for a possible groundbreaking before end-2015.

Maintaining a village character

In approving the rezoning of the Villages at Riverwalk, the planning commission director, Tim Polk, emphasized that an urban project like this has to “retain the whole village character of not only a new development but also redevelopment.” Being in synch with the local communities’ character is indeed pivotal for a project like Villages at Riverwalk as it sits within a historic locality. This area is also home to the Manatee Village Historical Park, an open-air museum with restored historical, turn-of-the-century structures including a church, general store and a barn.

History aside, residences in this area listed among Bradenton homes for sale often immediately find serious buyers because of their affordable pricing and proximity to the downtown teeming not only with dining and shopping outlets but also offering employment opportunities. For healthcare, this locality is only a short distance from the Manatee Memorial Hospital and the Manatee County Rural Health Services. This area is also home to the Riverfront Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the assisted senior living facility, Verandas at Riverfront. Equally favorable, the Manatee Elementary School is likewise nearby to combine with the demand drivers for homes at the Manatee Gardens area and a new neighbor moving in—the Villages at Riverwalk.