“We’re ready to go and we’re ready to start construction.”
Ocean Properties Vice President Andy Berger made that statement to the nine-person Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board more than once at its Dec. 17 meeting, in the hopes the board would approve a site plan amendment for the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort. That site plan asks for 85 of the town’s 250 tourism unit pool as part of a $24 million renovation-and-expansion project.
The P&Z board unanimously passed the site plan amendment, citing a strong need for the redeveloped hotel and the addition of restored hotel units that were lost down the road 13 years ago when the Longboat Key Holiday Inn closed its doors.
“When you think about it, we lost 142 hotel rooms in this same general area when the Holiday Inn closed,” said Senior Planner Steve Schield, who told the board that PZ&B staff recommended approval of the site plan. “We are kind of putting many of those units back in the same location where we lost them.”
P&Z board members overwhelmingly approved the project as a whole and recommended it to the commission with one condition.
Concerned the project doesn’t include a southbound deceleration lane for motorists who can ease into the lane before making a turn into the hotel, the P&Z Board agreed to include a condition that asks the applicant to work with Florida Department of Transportation officials to get such a lane approved. Disagreeing with traffic count numbers from a Hilton traffic consultant, the P&Z Board believes the lane would help ease congestion during Season from visitors entering the hotel.
“General traffic counts don’t apply on Longboat Key,” said P&Z board member George Symanski Jr. “There’s a lot of visitors here who slow down and don’t know where they are. Anytime you can take turning movements and move them over, it’s gong to help traffic flow.”
Hilton attorney John Patterson announced that the applicant would agree to the condition and would do its best to build the lane, if it’s approved by the state, before the hotel project is complete.
Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd., owner of the Hilton and the Resort at Longboat Key Club, submitted a site plan application in September for its long anticipated project.
If approved, the Hilton project is one of the first applicants to take advantage of the town-wide 250 tourism until pool that’s been waiting for applicants to apply for additional units since 2008.
The site plan application submitted Sept. 4 calls for redeveloping existing Hilton buildings and the 102-rooms that currently sit on the site, while also acquiring 85 of the town’s additional tourism units that would be used for a new tower on the property.
As part of the project, the existing tower will be gutted and remodeled, the pool area will be completely redone and everything to the south of the existing tower will change. The property will get a new lobby building, a new restaurant/meeting space building and new hotel tower with 85 new rooms that all have views of the Gulf.
“This will give us a facility that’s desperately needed and it’s been submitted and designed as well as it can possibly de done,” said P&Z Board Chairwoman B.J. Bishop.
For more information, pick up a copy of this week's Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].