The Urban Land Institute’s final report from its October 2013 study of Longboat Key arrived Monday at Longboat Key Town Hall.
The 46-page report details recommendations for the Key’s future and also includes the panel’s answers to 10 questions listed below that the town submitted to ULI in preparation for the study.
The report will be available on the town’s website, longboatkey.org.
How realistic is the vision plan for Longboat Key to help ensure that it continues to attract residents and visitors to maintain its status as a premier destination?
The panel noted that Longboat Key adopted a vision plan that serves as a broad framework in 2011. The panel believes that this framework should be the starting place for updating the comprehensive and land use plan.
Who will be the likely residents of and visitors to Longboat Key over the next 20 years?
The panel refrained from predicting who the future residents of and visitors to Longboat Key will be, but current trends portend a Longboat Key that continues to age and consists primarily of part-time residents. These trends will continue if Longboat Key does not adhere to the recommendations in the report.
What should the balance of residential, tourism and supportive commercial services be to ensure Longboat Key’s status as a premier residential and visitor destination?
The panel encourages the town to experiment with relaxing the rental restrictions and gauging the impacts on the economy and residents.
How should the town government encourage revitalization to make properties attractive for the future?
In general, future buyers will demand a different product than what is currently available on Longboat Key. In many instances, the market will provide the desired attributes without government interference. Some condominium revitalizations, however, will pose more of a challenge. The panel outlined actions that the town can take in partnership with the Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums to encourage revitalization of condominiums, including:
• Meet to map out a strategy for cooperation
• Conduct a basic evaluation of all condos
• Create a priority list for minor as well as major renovations
• Consider a strategy for grants and loans to those associations facing major renovations
• Understand insurance issues associated with sea-level rise
• Consider methods to create a fund supplementing renovation costs, including special assessments by area, an islandwide special assessment and a fee system for public facilities such as parking and recreation use.
Do the differences between the north Key, mid Key and south Key warrant separate planning efforts? If so, what would be the primary elements of those plans?
The panel believes that opportunity areas exist in the north and mid Key for the town to generate a vision and development plan that warrant separate planning efforts. The south Key, existing primarily as a master planned community, should be addressed with the Comprehensive Plan update.
What challenges and opportunities should the town be aware of that are likely to influence its future, and how can the town prepare for them?
The panel believes that shifting demographics pose a serious challenge. The panel also believes that if Longboat Key adheres to the recommendations in the report, the shifting demographics will be an opportunity for the island to continue to attract residents.
What innovations or creative approaches should Longboat Key develop to address challenges in community infrastructure that could be applied on Longboat Key?
The panel’s recommendations include improving the entry to the Key at the north end with landscaping, traffic and pedestrian improvements while pursuing a mixed-use hotel/commercial designation for Whitney Beach in the long term; engaging with the Ringling College of Art & Design to discuss the possibility of moving the Longboat Key Center for the Arts in a more central location; improvements to Bayfront Park; the creation of a town center in the Bay Isles area; and various mobility improvements.
The report urges the town to create a completely new Comprehensive Plan and zoning code/map to allow for rehabilitation and redevelopment on the Key.
What are Longboat Key’s most important assets?
The panel believes that Longboat Key’s most important assets are the passionate members of the community, the physical beauty and the quality of life on the island. The panel also notes that without proper maintenance, Longboat Key’s assets will erode.
How important is the concept of a “town center” to Longboat Key, what are the best attributes, and where should it be located?
The panel believes that a town center should be built in the vicinity of the Publix grocery area.
Should Longboat Key have a community center?
The panel heard diverse opinions on the topic of the community/cultural center. The panel believes that if the community decides to go forward with a community/cultural center, it should be built in the town center.
Contact Robin Hartill at email@example.com.