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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2010 7 years ago

Commission backs Islandside concept; decision stalled

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Members of the Longboat Key Town Commission unanimously raised their hands in support of the Islandside renovation-and-expansion project Wednesday, June 9, at Temple Beth Israel, but ultimately delayed an official vote on the project until Monday.

The Town Commission chose not to vote because it still has issues with the project and doesn’t want to make the modifications on the dais.

Mayor George Spoll said the commission still has concerns with the meeting center’s location and the size of the golf course condominium towers.

Commissioner David Brenner made the suggestion that the club, the Islandside Property Owners Coalition (which submitted a proposal Tuesday), the town attorney and the town planning director meet before the Monday, June 9, hearing at Temple Beth Israel to discuss a viable solution.

The club spent the afternoon listening to suggestions from commissioners to decide what they may be able to bring back Monday for the commission’s review.

Spoll suggested the meeting center be placed on top of the proposed adjacent parking garage to create more open space.

Commissioner Robert Siekmann suggested the proposed hotel and meeting center be grouped together on one side of Longboat Club Road and urged the club to reduce the height of the golf course condominium buildings, which he called “massive” and “a wall” up against the golf course.

But Commissioner Phillip Younger supported building one, taller condominium tower and eliminating the other tower.

Patterson noted that it appears the commission has more issues with the north parcel of the project and is looking for more separation between the commercial aspects and the residential components.

Although club attorney John Patterson and Loeb Partners Realty COO Michael Brody agreed to take one last look at the project, they told the commission they can’t promise they will come back to the temple Monday with a new project.

Said Patterson: “We are willing to discuss this with others, but it could well be this is the best we can do. At some point, it has to be decision time.”

Spoll told Patterson he understood.

“There is a strong consensus to support this project,” said Spoll, who along with the other six members of the commission said he supports the project conceptually.

The Town Commission must approve the $400 million Islandside project no later than Wednesday, June 16, to approve the project on second reading on June 30. The commission is precluded by its code from taking action on development application in July and August.

Commissioner Jim Brown, a retired architect who has built hotel projects like the one being proposed, was frustrated with the decision to postpone.

“We can’t micromanage or redesign this project,” said Brown, who supports the project as proposed. “At some point, we have to decide whether we are going to accept this project.”

Key Club General Manager Michael Welly also said he was frustrated with the decision Wednesday.

“This is a design charrette process that we wish we could have gotten your input from five years ago,” said Welly, who warned commissioners not to expect a project on Monday with buildings moved significantly. “We are in our 11th hour, but we will attempt to tweak the project and see you Monday.”

Spoll noted that the club should recognize the risk of having its project denied if no modifications are made.

But Welly countered the mayor by saying: “And you recognize the risk (of) turning us down.”

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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