The redevelopment of the Gulf Beach Resort Motel on Lido Key is expected to include about 65 condominium units, according to a presentation at Wednesday’s meeting of the town’s development review board.
The developer, The Ronto Group, based in Naples, offered limited details about its intentions for the property at 930 Benjamin Franklin Drive in a preliminary application to the city. In previous meetings, representatives of the developer indicated that the project would have 10 floors.
The developer is in the process of obtaining a new zoning designation for the 3.89 acre property which will allow for residential redevelopment. On Monday, the city commission is due to hold a public hearing on the final passage of the rezoning and associated deals limiting the intensity of any development on the land.
The rezoning application seeks to change the land use classification from Residential Multi-Family 4 to Waterfront Resort. The zoning change increases the maximum buildable height on the property from 95 to 135 feet. Although the proposal drew some complaints from neighboring residents during an initial public hearing in June, the majority of the city commission said it believed the project would be compatible with its surroundings even after the increase in the height.
To accommodate the condo and associated uses such as a restaurant, the developer intends to demolish the Gulf Beach Resort Motel and Coquina on the Beach, two buildings dating from 1946 and 1955. The Town Historic Review Board approved the demolition of the Gulf Beach Resort. Motel in 2020.
The conditions associated with the rezoning create a cap of 70 units allowed to be built on the property. These units cannot be rented for less than one month, and they cannot be rented more than three times a year. Any ancillary commercial use, including a restaurant, may only be constructed if its use is limited to condo residents and guests.
The developer has also agreed to provide a 5-foot access easement on the north side of the property for pedestrian access to the beach from Benjamin Franklin Drive. The developer will incorporate the existing Gulf Beach Resort motel sign into the redevelopment of the property.
According to the preliminary development application, the project team has estimated the construction value of the project at $125 million and is targeting a winter 2024 completion date.
Also on the agenda for Monday’s Municipal Commission meeting is consideration of a settlement of a longstanding dispute over a segment of land near Paul Thorpe Park in downtown Sarasota.
Under the terms of a proposed settlement, the city would sell a strip of land adjacent to the Northern Trust parking lot to EDM-Sarasota for $275,000. EDM-Sarasota said it will use the land to build a two-story food court, and the company is seeking the right to use part of the park for outdoor cafe seating.
The city agreed to sell the land to a real estate company in 2016 over objections from some residents who said the grassy strip of land was functionally part of the park. In 2017, however, Githler Development Inc. said it was the rightful owner of this property and the city had no right to sell it. By 2018, the dispute over ownership of the land had escalated to the point that EDM-Sarasota, the owner of the Northern Trust property, was suing the city.
Earlier this year, a 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge determined that the city owned the property, dismissing EDM-Sarasota’s claims. EDM-Sarasota filed an appeal, and in November an attorney representing the company contacted the city with the settlement offer.
Opponents of the settlement said the proposed sale would encroach on areas of the park where the city made improvements in 2019, affecting amenities such as seating, landscaping and a pergola. In an email to city officials, resident Barbra Campo encouraged officials not to accept the offer.
“Put simply, there is no compelling need that justifies sacrificing this park’s irreplaceable offerings of shade trees, a beautiful winding pergola with beautiful swings, and above all, quietude,” Campo wrote.
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