Year in Review: September 2013, Hilton: $24 million project


Year in Review: September 2013, Hilton: $24 million project


Date: December 30, 2013
by: Kurt Schultheis | Managing Editor


The Longboat Observer reviews the top stories of 2013.

Ocean Properties Ltd. submitted plans for a $24 million redevelopment-and-expansion plan for the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort last week that could begin in the first or second quarter of 2014.

The Delray Beach-based company, which also owns the Resort at Longboat Key Club, Lido Beach Resort and Lido Key Holiday Inn, submitted a site-plan application and request for 85 additional tourism units last week at Town Hall.

It’s the first resort redevelopment-and-expansion project proposed for the island since the former owners of the Key Club first submitted a resort project application in 2008. A variation of that Key Club project was overturned on appeals three years later.

Ocean Properties will seek recommendation by Planning, Zoning and Building Department staff and approval from the Longboat Key Town Commission by the end of the year.

If approved, the Hilton will become the first applicant to take advantage of a town-wide pool of 250 tourism units that voters approved in 2008.

The Sept. 4 site-plan application calls for redeveloping the existing Hilton buildings and the 102 rooms that currently sit on the site while also acquiring 85 of the town’s additional tourism units for a new tower on the property.

The application states:

“The Longboat Key hotel must be completely redeveloped and modernized to attract the affluent, upscale visitors that historically supported the local economy of Longboat Key.”

Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer said town staff will meet with Hilton officials this week to review what has been submitted.

Ocean Properties Vice President Andy Berger told the Longboat Observer in January that to keep the Hilton flag flying on the property, renovations had to begin this summer.

But, Sarasota attorney John Patterson, who is representing the Hilton and its project, told the Longboat Observer in May that the earliest the Hilton could file an application for the project was in October, which puts the application’s submittal on track for a fall review and public-hearing process.

On Monday, Berger said that pending approval, the project could begin in the first or second quarter of 2014. The hotel will close for 16 to 18 months for construction. Currently, the hotel’s website is accepting reservations through April.

Town Manager Dave Bullock and town staff worked with Hilton project engineers as needed throughout the summer to help move the process along. The application, as submitted, doesn’t require any departures from town codes.

Earlier this year, the commission approved an ordinance that modifies the outline development process (ODP) that distributes the pool of 250 tourism units. And, in May, Planning and Zoning Board members reviewed code and Comprehensive Plan changes that now allow the Hilton to seek a fifth floor and an additional 15 feet in height as part of its project through the site-plan process.

The changes were needed because town code previously didn’t allow Hilton officials to make such a request, because a judge has ruled the town’s ODP process can’t be used to approve such a project until the town makes sweeping code and Comprehensive Plan changes.

The change allows the Hilton and other T-6 zoning (six tourism units per acre) properties to request to redevelop through the site-plan process.

“This is simply another way to review a project while the town works through issues with its ODP process,” Meyer said.

Hilton application
Ocean Properties Ltd. submitted a site-plan application to Town Hall last week for a Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort renovation-and expansion project that states:

“The Longboat Key hotel must be completely redeveloped and modernized to attract the affluent, upscale visitors that historically supported the local economy of Longboat Key. All of the existing buildings and facilities will be demolished, with the exception of the five-story hotel tower on the north side, which shall be refurbished with completely renovated guestrooms and rebuilt infrastructure. The resort will include a new five-story south tower to complement the existing north tower, providing a total of 187 guest rooms supported by an expansive, 165-seat restaurant offering gorgeous, second-story views of the beach and a beautifully redesigned pool area. In addition, 3,000 square feet of meeting space is integrated within the same building as the restaurant and other staff services to provide outstanding support for expanded business retreats and conferences. The revitalization will reposition the property as one of the most outstanding, destination beach resorts in Southwest Florida.”

The Longboat Key Planning & Zoning Board recommended a site plan amendment for the project at its Dec. 17 meeting. The Longboat Key Town Commission will consider the plan in January. The Longboat Key
Hilton Beachfront Resort is currently accepting reservations through April 30 on its website.

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