Vertical construction begins as part of Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue’s $10 million expansion.

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor at East County Observer

Rob Oglesby, development director for Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue, zipped around on his golf cart, going to areas on Nate’s property he seldom visited in the past.

From the front parking area of Nate’s Honor’s Animal Rescue campus at 4951 Lorraine Road, he headed down a dirt path bulldozers had carved to the back portion of Nate’s 8-acre property. Heavy equipment was busy moving dirt to raise the land by 2 feet and dig a more than 2-acre lake, which will be used to provide a quarter-mile walking trail for exercising the animals.

“We never really utilized back here,” Oglesby said. “This is going to be great.”

By the end of the month, contractors will begin erecting two prefabricated buildings, a 4,000-square-foot training center and a 5,000-square-foot intake building. Both should be complete in 90 days.

It’s the first vertical construction to occur for redevelopment of Nate’s campus. When it’s finished, there also will be a 20,000-square-foot welcome and adoption center, which will house a veterinary clinic, parvo and maternity wards for animals, an education and community center, and tentatively an ice cream and waffle eatery that will be open for breakfast and lunch. The eatery will be the only space leased to an outside vendor.

When construction is finished, there will also be eight new cottages for dogs, bringing the total to 18, as well as a dog swimming pool and play area. Combined, the changes will effectively allow the nonprofit to double the number of dogs it houses and will increase capacity for cats by 25%, as well as create alternative revenue streams. Nate’s intends to offer spaces for birthday parties and gatherings, summer camp and educational programs.

For now, however, Oglesby is focused on the site work.

As soon as the back two buildings are finished, Nate’s will move its operations from a house at the front of the property to those buildings as crews demolish the house to make way for the welcome and adoption center.

“We’ll move the whole operation back there,” Oglesby said. “They’ve already ordered the steel for the front building. Everything’s going to happen pretty fast.”

Crews currently are working to install water and sewer connections along the property boundary.

Benderson Development Co. is the general contractor for the project. Currently, water and sewer connections are being made to Manatee County’s utility system. That should be finished by about Aug. 15, and then the front parking lot can be razed.

Oglesby said construction of an underground drainage system will correct long-standing flooding problems that have forced temporary site closures each year.

“It’s not super sexy, but to us, it’s huge,” Oglesby said. “Usually, [with all the rain], we’d be underwater right now.”

Oglesby said Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue has reached about 70% of its $10 million fundraising goal. Fundraising efforts have been put on hold because of COVID-19. However, they likely will relaunch by the end of August after vertical construction begins on the back buildings.

Oglesby said some people have been skeptical Nate’s expansion plans will come to fruition, and now that they can physically see what’s happening, he hopes the remainder of the funding will come in quickly.

Nate’s leaders expect to double staffing after the facility opens and anticipate bringing in revenues from an on-site veterinary clinic, a training center and hosting events.

“Our goal is to make it a break-even operation without donations,” Oglesby said.

If that were to happen, Oglesby said financial contributions could go toward helping more animals, such as paying for parvo treatments or other specialty medical needs.