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Lido Sandcastle
Sarasota Thursday, May. 18, 2017 8 months ago

Lido hotel plans draw questions

Although residents aren’t objecting to plans to redevelop the Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach, they have some concerns about the project’s impact on traffic and more.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Lido Key resident Janice Morris likes the idea of a new luxury hotel on the barrier island. She just doesn’t want it to be too tall.

On Tuesday, residents such as Morris shared their thoughts on the proposed redevelopment of the Sandcastle Resort on Lido Beach with the property owners. Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties plans to replace the 1950s building with 110-foot towers with 304 hotel rooms.

The existing property, located at 1540 Benjamin Franklin Drive, is four stories tall and has 176 rooms. For Morris and others, the scope of the project stood out.

“As I look north now, I have a crystal-clear view of the entire Lido public beach,” Morris said at Tuesday’s meeting. “If your building goes up to the full extent you’re discussing, that view of Lido Beach will be wiped out. That will be a loss of enjoyment for me. Who knows what it’ll do to my property value.”

Ocean Properties Vice President Mark Walsh said the plans are in line with the height of other buildings in the area, including the Lido Regency and the Ritz-Carlton Beach Residences. The proposal calls for a building with a slender, curved frame, similar to the company’s Opal Sands Resort in Clearwater Beach.

Residents also asked what the increased size of the hotel would mean for traffic in the area. Walsh pointed out the land is zoned for a residential multifamily building, and said a hotel would generate less vehicular traffic than a condominium. The City Commission will eventually need to approve a rezoning application for the hotel project to move forward.

The redevelopment will also include about 20,000 square feet of restaurant, ballroom and meeting space. Although a traffic study is ongoing, Walsh doesn’t expect the project to noticeably add to congestion in the area, even during season.

“This is not going to change the traffic one way or another to any great extent,” Walsh said.

Other residents at Tuesday’s workshop praised the proposed design and concept for the hotel redevelopment. Carl Shoffstall, president of the Lido Key Residents Association, said the changes would represent an upgrade from the dated Sandcastle building.

He also was enthusiastic about the project bolstering the island’s supply of hotel rooms.

“We need this,” Shoffstall said. “We’ve lost over 400 rooms since I’ve been out here in hotel space.”

Walsh said Ocean Properties plans to make the Sandcastle a four-star hotel or better, promising residents a high-end final product. All of the rooms will include a waterfront view. Walsh said the company is positioning the Sandcastle as the nicest hotel in the area. Ocean Properties intends to continue to own and manage the property post-redevelopment.

“We understand what would be successful here, and we’ve come up with a design that we think fits the site and fits the market for the long term,” Walsh said.

Bruce Franklin, a planner working with Ocean Properties, said the group plans to file a formal site plan within four to six months. In addition to the rezoning application, the city will need to approve a major conditional use for the restaurant, meeting space and recreational facility, which will offer rentals for nonmotorized watercraft.

If Ocean Properties gains the necessary approvals, the project could be complete by 2019.

Residents of nearby properties, including the Orchid Beach Club and Mark Twain Condos, encouraged Walsh to continue engaging with the Lido community as plans progress.

“I’m hoping — given the size of property you have — we can work together to mitigate the concerns the residents have and still make your project a very great addition to our beach,” said Mark Twain resident Pat Ludwig.

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