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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 8 years ago

Cabana Inn pushes for a revote

by: Robin Roy City Editor

After the traditional route of getting his project approved was blocked, the owner of the Cabana Inn will try a more unconventional way to get city commissioners to approve his plan for a new hotel — public pressure.

Property owner Rodney Dessberg and his consultant, Terry Purdy, plan to ask Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner to ask the commission for a revote.

“We’re going to fight this,” said Purdy.

Kirschner, along with Mayor Dick Clapp and Commissioner Terry Turner, rejected Dessberg’s request to redevelop the property at 2525 S. Tamiami Trail. The plan calls for increasing the number of rooms from 64 to 88 to attract a national hotel chain.

But because the current zoning code only allows 58 rooms at that location, the City Commission rejected his project last week.

Purdy said the only option left is to try to persuade one of the commissioners to request another vote. Kirschner is the commissioner he’s targeting.

“Kirschner told me he likes the project,” said Purdy. “We were really surprised at his vote.”

Dessberg, who owns more than two-dozen properties on U.S. 41, will erect signs that urge for a revote on each one of his properties this week.

The city commission turned down the request to redevelop despite support from many in the community, including the Arlington Park Neighborhood Association.

“The majority of those members attending association meetings support the redevelopment,” said Fay Rice, association president. “I do not understand how anyone could be against the project, including those neighbors directly behind the Cabana Inn. Wouldn’t they much rather live behind a beautiful boutique hotel, instead of the Cabana Inn in its present condition or the Cabana Inn with a coat of paint?”

Project supporters uttered the word “eyesore” several times when describing the current state of the motel/lounge during the commission meeting.

Two neighbors who live directly behind the business told commissioners they opposed the project because they didn’t like the proposed height of 34 feet. But one supporter countered that the reason the project was in question was because of an increase in the number of hotel rooms, not because of its height, which was under the maximum allowable height of 35 feet.

Because current zoning would allow an office building on the Cabana Inn property and because it’s just south of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Turner suggested a medical complex was a “better fit for the

Purdy said that with so much vacant office space in Sarasota, adding more would hurt the city and county in the long run.

“(The hotel) will be an inspiration,” said Purdy. “People need to see development.”

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