Working Together for Even More Possibilities

Over the past 10 years of connecting people + places + possibilities in downtown Bradenton, Realize Bradenton believes that a thriving downtown economy flows from a pipeline of opportunity for everyone – vendors at our Bradenton Farmers’ Market, microenterprises like Independent Jones, to locally-owned brick-and-mortar retailers such as The Rusty Crickett’s, restaurants like Chateau 13 and Oscura Café & Bar, as well as large, innovative businesses like SUNZ Insurance.

chateau-13-400x300px.jpgIn light of downtown’s momentum, NOW is an optimal time for us all to work together to build a
robust ecosystem that supports the success of both emerging and existing businesses.

In partnership with the City of Bradenton and support from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Realize Bradenton has engaged Kennedy Smith, Principal of the Community Land Use and Economics (CLUE) Group, to conduct a market analysis for downtown Bradenton, Florida. Smith is a foremost expert on commercial district revitalization and main street economics. The CLUE Group helps communities create vibrant downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers. Downtown Bradenton’s market analysis began in early November 2019 and is expected to conclude in April 2020.

birdrock-400x300px.jpgThe 2020 market analysis will update the 2007 Downtown by Design market analysis and is funded by the Knight Donor Advised Fund at the Manatee Community Foundation. The study will focus on Old Main Street, Old Manatee, and the Village of the Arts. The goal is to create actionable steps and recommendations for strategies, resources, tools, funding partnerships, policies, and programs to make the heart of Bradenton more economically prosperous, vibrant, and FUN.

Importantly, the analysis is an in-depth opportunity to extend Realize Bradenton’s recent qualitative research on what our Millennial and Gen Z talent seeks in the place they call home.

What Millennials and Gen Z Talent Seek in A Place

oscura-400x300px.jpgRealize Bradenton asked younger residents the same question – “what are your ideas for a quality place to live, work, and play?” Overall, Bradenton-area Millennials and Gen Zers want to contribute to downtown’s positive momentum, improving our community in dynamic, participatory ways. The top qualities they seek are density, diversity, interesting, bikeable, and walkable.

Here are some items on their wish list for downtown Bradenton:


  • Activate second stories and add more balconies.
  • Affordable rentals can be smaller in terms of square footage.
  • More to do so you can spend all day downtown.
  • Fresh food shopping places like Orlando’s East End Market.
  • Seed small businesses in vacant downtown buildings.


  • Public spaces that attract a diversity of people.
  • Not just bars - comedy, live music jams, video game lounge.
  • Family-friendly events like movie nights and sports.
  • Open riverfront to retail and restaurants.
  • Have a place with tables for food trucks to park, constantly changing.


  • Public art that draws people in like frames, murals, Greenville’s mice.
  • Make use of rooftops - bars, gardens, decks, etc.
  • Showcase historic buildings and their stories.
  • Funky, fun, interactive things like a wishing well or letters to Juliet.
  • Poems on a sidewalk that show up when it rains.
  • Community gardens.
  • Speakers in the trees that play music.


  • Make the Green Bridge more bike-friendly.
  • Bike shares or rentals.
  • Publicly accessible, secure bike storage.
  • Biking fitness route do-able in a lunch hour.
  • Shower facilities so you can ride to work, then shower.


  • Connect all the good stuff in downtown.
  • Paths that safely connect neighborhoods by walking (or biking!).
  • Make an art trail or mural alley people can walk and enjoy.
  • Signs that show walk times to downtown destinations.
  • Lighting matters, make walkers feel safe.

P.S. -- Realize Bradenton conducted this same research with our volunteers aged 60 and over, and remarkably the results were almost identical!