Longboat Key Club and Resort General Manager Michael Welly takes issue with the fact that opponents to the club’s $400 million Islandside renovation project believe it impacts views from existing residences.
“I understand where they are coming from,” Welly said. “But the bottom line is views can’t be protected, and everyone knew that when they bought property here.”
Key Club Public Relations Manager Katherine Songster said the closest point of contact from existing residences to the project’s proposed golf course condominiums is more than 900 feet away and doesn’t impact any views of Sarasota Bay.
“The area where our buildings would stand represents less than 5% of their (Islandside residents) entire view,” Songster said. “And the higher you go up, our buildings become less and less noticeable.”
But Bob White, chairman of the Islandside Property Owners Coalition and an L’Ambiance unit owner, disagrees.
“The views from Islandside residences have not been a central issue that we have raised, but I do think the height of the buildings is a concern,” White said. “The golf course condominiums would detract from current views.”
Songster, however, said that for the majority of condos behind the gates, there will be more than 1,200 feet between the closest building that would be built.
Songster also points out that the golf course condominiums are 113 feet tall, shorter than the two, 144-foot L’Ambiance towers.
And, Welly and Songster believe that if anyone has a right to complain about views, it should be club officials.
Building Four of the Inn on the Beach Hotel, Songster said, has a tougher time renting out hotel rooms, even though it sits on the beach, because it sits less than 100 feet from L’Ambiance’s Building One.
Building Four, an 83-foot-tall structure that was built in 1982, used to offer sweeping views of the beach looking north for guests, Songster said.
But, when the 144-foot L’Ambiance residence tower was built in 1992, those beach views were eliminated.
While standing on a balcony of Inn on the Beach Building 4, the only view hotel guests have to their north is L’Ambiance.
“That building killed our views for Building 4 and hurts our occupancy rates for certain units,” Welly said.
Welly said the views that L’Ambiance has affected are much worse than anything that the club is building, including the seven-story golf course condominiums over two levels of parking.
White, however, said that, to the best of his knowledge, the land to the north of Building 4 where L’Ambiance sits was designated as a multi-family development site.
“It’s an existing residential site, unlike the property where the club proposes to place the golf course condominiums,” said White, who said he didn’t believe there would be coalition opposition if the club submitted plans to increase the height of Inn on the Beach buildings.
Welly, meanwhile, said he doesn’t understand the problem.
“We are replacing the current view with a new view of some very beautiful architectural buildings and a brand-new golf course,” Welly said. “The project does not affect beachfront views, which is the primary view of Islandside residents, at all.”