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Longboat Key Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 12 months ago

Chiles Group moves forward with purchase of historic cottage

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The Longboat Key Historical Society is planning to purchase a historic cottage from the Longboat Key Historical Society.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The owners of Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant are moving forward with the purchase of a historic cottage from the Longboat Key Historical Society.

The Chiles Group plans to move the larger L-shaped cottage down the street from where it sits on Broadway Street to 6920 Gulf of Mexico Drive just north of Whitney Plaza.

“We’ve been part of the community there since 1989, and we kind of liked the idea about helping to maintain the historical aspect and sustainability of the community,” Chiles Group CEO Chuck Wolfe said.

Before the cottage can move, the Chiles Group needs to become the official owner of the cottage and then would need to receive several approvals from the town’s Planning, Zoning and Building Department. It includes a temporary-use permit for the temporary relocation of the structure, a moving permit for its relocation and a site development plan amendment for consideration by the Planning and Zoning Board.

Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons said the site development plan amendment would need to contain the landscape plan, civil engineering plan and site plan details. The P&Z Board could consider the proposal as soon as January.

Parsons said the temporary permit would allow the Chiles Group to temporarily move the cottage from where it currently sits until a decision is made by the P&Z Board. Temporary-use permits are generally approved for six-month periods with the opportunity for extensions, according to Parsons.

The Chiles Group initially planned to build a 98-spot parking lot and 300-square-foot office near Broadway and Gulf of Mexico Drive.

The Chiles Group had initially planned to build a 98-spot parking lot and 300-square-foot office on the land near Broadway and Gulf of Mexico Drive. If the P&Z Board approves the plan amendment, the historic cottage would replace the proposed 300-square-foot building.

“It would be our hope that this building would become the focal point of that property,” Wolfe said.

It's unclear what kind of impact, if any, the cottage would have on the proposed parking at 6920 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“We haven’t received any site specific details yet, so we don’t know how the parking may be impacted by the larger structure,” Parsons wrote in an email. “My understanding is that parking is still a primary intended component of their development.”

The cottage is one of two at 521 Broadway St. Historical Society President Michael Drake was tasked with moving the cottages because the landowner is looking to sell the property.

Both historic cottages were built in the late 1930s and were among the original structures of Whitney’s Beach Resort. The Historical Society is planning to move the smaller cottage to the Town Center site.

Wolfe said the Historical Society must move the smaller cottage before the Chiles Group can move the larger one.

“Maintaining that kind of Florida history, maintaining a sense of old Florida has been a part of Ed [Chiles’] ethos since he first started,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said he hopes the entire moving process of the larger cottage is done in 2021.

“That’s kind of an extensive process unto itself, getting the approvals,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe estimated the total cost to be between $50,000 and $100,000 to move the larger cottage. Costs include purchasing the cottage, the moving of the building, the preparation of the land it’s going on, temporary preparation, permit costs, lawyer fees, setting up FPL for utilities and plumbing.

“I want to highly commend the Historical Society for keeping them in the shape they’re in and taking such good care of them,” Wolfe said.

Earlier in November, JB Holding Co. owner James Brearley submitted a $45,000 bid to purchase the larger L-shaped cottage. However, Brearly and a friend did not feel comfortable with the amount of road noise coming from Gulf of Mexico Drive on their preferred lot in Longbeach Village and backed away from the purchase.

Wolfe said he was a “little disappointed” the Chiles Group didn’t have the initial winning bid. The disappointment faded when he found out the Chiles Group was due to receive the cottage.

“When we got the call from Michael Drake, that we were the second-place bidder and that it was still available, we were like, ‘OK, great. This is going to work out after all,’” Wolfe said.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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