New life for restored Bradenton hotel - FOX 13 News

New life for restored Bradenton hotel

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BRADENTON (FOX 13) -

The Manatee River Hotel opened its doors in 1925.

"The hotel was the center of our social community in downtown Bradenton," said Cathy Slusser.

Slusser is the director of historical resources for the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Courts Office. She said guests would dance the night away in the rooftop garden.

"You could hear the music all over downtown," she said.

The hotel's glamorous appeal faded over the years. Its walls were painted pink and it eventually turned into a retirement home before closing.

It sat abandoned for years.

"We thought it was important that we recapture the elegance of years past and save this hotel," said Tim Polk with the city of Bradenton.

The Widewaters Development Group saw it as a perfect spot for a Hampton Inn. They spent 10 months and $21 million restoring the hotel. The staircase is original, and the atrium provides a feel of old Florida.

Rooms offer a breathtaking view.

"It was a big responsibility taking over the building and making sure it was up to the caliber that the community was expecting," said Kelly Ann Dixon with the Hampton Inn and Suites.

The city expects a big economic boost. Bradenton's downtown is growing, and a hotel was the missing piece.

"It is walkable. You don't have to get in the car to go different places. You have old Main in walking distance from here. You've got the Riverwalk," Polk said.

For many, the hotel's rebirth is a sign.

"It is symbolic of the fact that we can build on our past, and still move into the future," Slusser said.

That a bright future can begin with the past.

"This old girl knows it's getting ready to open up again as a resort and it feels like it's come full circle," said Dixon.

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