The permit approved by the Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department is another step in the project that expected to be complete by Thanksgiving.
The Longboat Key Club received a permit for a new gatehouse at its Islandside Resort, a $75,000 project that is meant to accommodate a new route for Longboat Club Drive, which has been under construction since April 9.
The project to reroute Longboat Club Drive has been framed as the first steps toward building a new hotel on the property — a conversion of 300 residential units to tourism rooms for the hotel as approved by voters in May 2015.
Leonard Garner, a full-time resident at L’Ambiance, said the construction has been disruptive because it has shrunk the exit to the neighborhood to one lane where it once was two.
The issue, Garner said, is that the traffic light at the intersection of Longboat Club Drive and Gulf of Mexico Drive favors vehicles traveling on the island’s main thoroughfare, leaving little time for residents and visitors exiting the Islandside Resort to pass through the crossroads.
“It’s annoying,” Garner said. “But we’ll survive.”
The focus of the project is “to further enhance the arrival experience” for Longboat Key Club guests and residents, General Manager Jeff Mayers said earlier this year. He also said “there has not been further dialogue” in regard to building a hotel on the property since the referendum approving its construction.
Mayers said in a recent interview that the road project is progressing as expected with a completion date of mid-November.
The road and landscaping will take shape within the next few months.
The 2015 referendum was approved by 1,948 votes in favor, 53%, compared with 1,721 votes, 47%, that opposed the measure for the hotel.
Ocean Properties attorney John Patterson said late last year the road project was an “in furtherance” of the Resort at Longboat Key Club’s plans to build a hotel on the property. Ocean Properties has not submitted plans for the hotel project to the town.
The project is designed to realign Longboat Club Drive to the north, making the parcel to the south larger. It also includes landscape for the roadway with new foliage and the gatehouse.
An application for the project submitted last fall shows the roadway lined by palm trees — oak trees edge the drive now. Developers hope to redesign the entrance with a new sign, water feature and columns surrounded by seasonal plants.
Developers have also proposed a left-turn lane into the southern parcel before the new gatehouse, a turn lane that leads to what are now unused tennis courts.
The Planning and Zoning Board in May approved construction plans for the Resort at Longboat Key Club to allow for the club to rebuild its cart barn and move its driving range north to make space for a rerouted Longboat Club Road.