Demolition of a structure at the Broadway Street and Gulf of Mexico Drive intersection began on Monday.
Demolition on what used to be a gas station in Longboat Key is underway.
The destruction of a structure at the intersection of Broadway Street and Gulf of Mexico Drive signals a step forward in the development of Whitney’s, a casual restaurant. Site developer James Brearley wrote in an email that the target for opening is still fall of 2019, meaning the demolition fits within the original development schedule.
Brearley wrote that the intention was never to completely tear down the existing building; the plan from the start has always been to repurpose the existing building. The old, flat roof and some of the interior walls are currently what's being demolished.
“This is a passion project for everyone on our team. Personally, it’s exciting to have the support of the neighborhood,” Brearley wrote. “It is gratifying to be a part of a project that reuses the existing building and provides a gathering spot that will be an amenity for the neighborhood.”
Michael Drake, property manager, founder of Property Solutions Group and former president of the Longbeach Village Association, has lived in Longboat Key since 1985. He also said that the building isn’t being entirely destroyed – it’s being added to after being taken down to certain portions.
As for Whitney’s, though, “I have heard nothing but positive remarks,” Drake said.
“I think it’s a plus, not only for that corner but Key-wide,” Drake continued. “It gives us another venue to gather at.”
A 2016 proposal from Brearley for a hotel was voted down by residents. Per the Town Charter, whenever tourism or residential density is increased, it triggers a referendum, and, as Drake notes, “One more car on Longboat Key equals a ‘no’ vote.”
“On Longboat Key, an island-wide vote is required when a landowner wants to add residential density to a parcel of land,” Brearley wrote. “Our site is (and has always been) a commercial zoned property, so a residential density referendum was not required.”
The canopy of the former gas station has already been demolished. Part of the development process includes building a new canopy. But the razing of the actual gas station structure did not start in earnest until June 10 after gathering the building renovation permit on June 7, according to Brearley.
Drake commented on the ingenuity of keeping the canopy.
“If you go across this country, there’s been a lot of successful models of service stations turned into restaurants,” Drake said. “People like the look of it, it’s warm and friendly.”
Replete with outdoor showers, Whitney’s will sell breakfast and coffee as well as food and items including salads, sandwiches and sunscreen.