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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 8 years ago

Key Club reviews its options

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Phillip Younger is offering a compromise. Younger, an at- large commission candidate, was the only person, out of 35 members of the public who stepped to the podium to give public comment for the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion hearing last week, who offered a detailed compromise for the club’s plan.

Younger’s compromise got the attention of both the Key Club and the Islandside Property Owners Coalition. Both parties, Younger said, asked him for a copy of his rendering and proposal last week.

Younger’s compromise, or at least a portion of it, may be one of the reasons why club officials asked for a week-long continuance of the hearings Friday, Jan. 22, to see if they can resolve some of the issues town staff and some Islandside residents have with the project.

The Bay Isles resident stepped to the podium Wednesday, Jan. 20, with a revised map of the Islandside project, showing how adjustments can be made to make the project more workable for both parties.

Younger began his presentation by suggesting that traffic impacts on Gulf of Mexico Drive and Longboat Club Road could be lessened by moving the Longboat Club Road entrance to the south edge of the golf course and curving it back to the current road after passing the proposed meeting center.

“This could occur without adverse impact to what the club desires,” Younger said.

Younger proposed taking the meeting center and parking deck it sits on and flipping it, which he said would allow truck access and general access from the north and valet and other access from the south via Longboat Club Road, which would make Longboat Club Road a less-traveled service road and be used to access The Chart House.

Moving the road north, Younger said, enables a longer line of cars to sit on Gulf of Mexico Drive, while eliminating car-and-pedestrian cross-traffic on the revised Longboat Club Road between the meeting center and hotel.

“This would also allow Islandside resident traffic to flow basically unimpeded,” Younger said.

Younger also proposed moving the Longboat Club Road security gate to the west, past the proposed wellness center, which also reduces the amount of curb cuts needed to the road.

Noting that the two proposed condominium towers are a main part of concern for IPOC, Younger also suggested eliminating one of the condo towers to restore Islandside’s golf course driving range.

“To replace the lost building, I suggest adding several more floors to the remaining tower, a couple more floors to the villas and several more condo floors to the hotel,” Younger said.

Younger also said the club should consider adding several floors to the proposed wellness center.

“This would still provide the club with seed money and better encourage construction of the hotel,” Younger said.

Younger also believes the club should donate not $3 million, but $4 million, to the town for a new recreation center as a condition of approval for the project.

“Bear in mind this represents a mere 1% of the espoused value of the club’s $400 million project,” Younger said. “Since there is no guarantee the hotel will be built, this would ensure the town itself tangibly benefits, regardless of what may happen later.”

Younger, who has attended every hearing at the Planning and Zoning Board and Town Commission levels, said it took him about a month to come up with his proposal.

The Islandside hearing will continue at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29, at Temple Beth Israel.


Step forward, not back

Longboat Key Club and Resort General Manager Michael Welly said the decision last week to continue the Islandside renovation-and-expansion hearing until Friday, Jan. 22 was a step in the right direction.

Said Welly: “The decision to request a continuance of the hearing was a step forward, not backward. We have been open to constructive feedback regarding our $400 million redevelopment master plan. Now that we are basically in the 11th hour, we thought taking one last look at it with the town staff made
sense. However, any possible changes to our plan must be both financially feasible and sustainable to ensure the long-term success of the club and our ability to raise the financing necessary to make these improvements.”

Welly said the club, as a good neighbor, will have its planning staff meet with representatives from the town this week to review suggestions made during the last several months.

Key Club attorney John Patterson said none of the attorneys is involved in the process this week.

“We are taking a short timeout from a legal standpoint and seeing if the club’s planning staff can bring forth an even better project than what’s proposed,” Patterson said.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].


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