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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 10 years ago

Key Club pitches project ... again

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

One can’t exist without the other.

Speaking on behalf of the Longboat Key Club and Resort Monday, Jan. 11, Florida economist Dr. Hank Fishkind told the commission the club “is the portal of the community and the face of the community.”

Said Fishkind: “Without the support of the town, this program cannot go forward and the resort will deteriorate, along with the island and its real-estate values.”

Also on the second day of hearings, Longboat Key Club and Resort officials continued their Islandside renovation-and-expansion presentation to the Town Commission, sending General Manager Michael Welly to the stand to explain how important this project is for the island as a whole.

“We are simply looking ahead to prepare for the future of our members and this island,” Welly said. “This project will return Longboat Key to its position as a premier luxury-and-resort community.”

Welly told the commission and approximately 100 people in attendance at Temple Beth Israel that the project would attract year-round consumers, support town businesses all year long and be a complement to amenities in Sarasota and St. Armands Circle.

Loeb Partners Realty president and chief operating officer Michael Brody also testified that almost $24 million has been reinvested back into the Key Club in the last five years to make upgrades and prepare for the Islandside project.

When asked by Commissioner Gene Jaleski if the club could guarantee the project’s five-star hotel, which would be constructed in the final phase of the project, will be built, Brody said he could not.

Key Club attorney John Patterson also responded to Jaleski’s question, trying to assuage concerns that were previously brought up by The Planning and Zoning Board.

Said Patterson: “A commitment of tens of millions dollars is the commitment, because it’s a waste unless the hotel is built. The end game and the jewel of the investment is the hotel. It’s all tied together.”

Brody tried to dispel concerns the project might not be built because of lending issues, by saying he wouldn’t have flown down from New York to talk to the commission if he didn’t think his company could attract investors for the project. Brody also said a profit analysis, which he is unwilling to provide to the town, shows the project will make money.

“We have spent millions of dollars getting where we are today and in front of you,” Brody said. “We have a 40-year track record of making money and if this project is approved, we will do it.”

The Islandside project calls for constructing a new Rees Jones-designed golf course; a new clubhouse; a 196-room, five-star hotel with an additional 34 units to be used for luxury residences; a new meeting center; two villa townhomes with a total of 10 units; two condominium buildings with 66 units each; a new wellness center with enhanced spa-and-fitness facilities; and other recreational amenities for club members and guests.

The commission, which will review the project again at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 15, is charged with making the ultimate decision on the project.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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