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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2012 5 years ago

New application revives project

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s $400 million Islandside expansion-and-renovation project was pronounced dead in August when Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that quashed the project’s development order the town approved. But a new application — for the same project previously proposed — will be filed within the week and will give plans for Islandside a chance at new life.

Longboat Key Club General Manager Michael Welly told the Longboat Observer he received the green light Tuesday afternoon from New York-based Loeb Partners Realty Group, the owners and managers of the resort, and the project’s London-based investors, Abercromby Property International, to resubmit its project with the town’s Planning & Zoning Board as early as next week.

The first step in that process is filing a pre-application with the town that town planners will review before an official application is resubmitted.

“We are resubmitting the application,” Welly said. “The scope of what we are intending to develop is exactly the same scope of what we presented to the town and what was previously approved by commissioners.”

Welly said he doesn’t foresee the town having to hold a multitude of public hearings regarding the project like it did in summer 2010. Welly also said he expects no issues with the project now that the town has already approved Comprehensive Plan and zoning-code changes, which the Islandside Property Owners Coalition is still challenging in the Sarasota 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

“Given the scope of what we were presenting, the town, rightfully so, went above and beyond to hold a multitude of public hearings on our project in 2010,” Welly said. “But this project is not a surprise to anyone anymore, and we intend to move it along within all the guidelines that we already laid out. Although the Islandside Property Owners Coalition may show up and voice its opinion, I think the rest of the town has shown support for this project.”

Welly said his design team was already working to make sure drawings for the project are up to date while they waited to get approval from New York and London to resubmit the application.

Welly has had to wait four weeks for a verdict from London investors, who take off the month of August like much of Europe’s business community does.

Welly said the goal is to have the project approved, again, before the Longboat Key Town Commission takes its summer 2013 hiatus.

Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White said he wasn’t surprised by the club’s announcement.

“It was only a question of when they would resubmit an application,” White said.

When told the Key Club intended to file an application for the exact same project, White said, “Now, that’s disappointing.”

Welly said he is unaware what the announcement means for a pending joint venture with Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd., owners of the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort, Holiday Inn Lido Beach and the Lido Beach Resort. Ocean Properties is still in the midst of a due diligence period with the Key Club to become an equity partner in Key Club Associates, L.P., the entity that controls the Longboat Key Club and Resort.

“They (Ocean Properties officials) have spent a lot of time here the last two weeks and are reviewing all the answers to the questions they asked and are reviewing the documents they requested,” Welly said. “I am sure they were consulted by New York and are figuring out where to go from here while continuing the due diligence process.”

Ocean Properties Vice President Andy Berger said his company is continuing the due diligence period at this time and declined any further comment.

Welly said he’s pleased with the decision to resubmit the application.

“I have stated all along that this project is essential for the club and a very important project for this town,” Welly said.

Mayor Jim Brown echoed Welly’s statements.

“This is great news for Longboat Key,” Brown said. “This is not about the Key Club, it’s about Longboat Key, which is in a state of decline and needs a project like this.”

Welly said he felt like he “let down” his New York and London investors and is excited they are willing to press on with a project he has spent years creating and designing.

“To have another opportunity to get this approved and built is a thrilling aspect for me,” Welly said. “This is a project that’s going to be built, and if there was ever a question as to Loeb’s commitment to the club and to this town, this decision by our investors today would certainly answer that question.”

Brenner’s Key Club speech
Vice Mayor David Brenner made the following speech Tuesday, Sept. 4, at the Longboat Key Town Commission’s regular meeting before the Longboat Key Club and Resort announced Tuesday it’s resubmitting its Islandside application:

“Last week, the appellate court affirmed the decision of the lower court with regard to the Key Club application. I’m disappointed, and, frankly, I think it’s wrong, but that’s the way it is, and I don’t deliberately break the law.

“The crux of the matter is the future of Longboat Key. What the Key Club will do, we will know in due course. I, for one, will continue to push to get us beyond the no-change mindset of a vocal, but misguided, minority of our citizens.

“We must move ahead with our planning efforts for this Key, including whatever changes are obvious to our Comp Plan and to our zoning codes. I know we’ve gotten to a good place, but it’s not as good as it was. I hope we’ve learned something from the Colony debacle. Change happens, and I think we ought to control it.”

Islandside Project Details
The Town Commission approved the following plan 6-1 for the Islandside resort in June 2010. Longboat Key Club and Resort Manager Michael Welly said a new application for the project to be filed soon would look essentially the same. That project includes:

• North parcel
• Five residential villas for a total of 32 units
• Wellness Center with a spa/fitness center
• Four tennis courts
• Golf clubhouse
• 17,000-square-foot meeting center
• South parcel
• Villas on the Pass, consisting of three villas for a total 20 units
• New hotel with 196 hotel rooms and 76 residential or tourist units in a building with 11 stories over one level of parking
• Condos on the Pass with a total of 27 residential units in a building with seven stories over one level of parking


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