How much goodwill does Longboat Key have?
That’s open to debate, but when it comes to Goodwill — as in, a drop-off location — the answer is: It doesn’t have one.
Bradenton businessman John McKay, a former Republican state legislator, recently entered the 60-day due diligence period to purchase the former Longbeach Chevron station that’s been vacant since 2007 to build a Goodwill donation center.
McKay called the plan “very, very premature.”
“We’re doing a lot of investigation, letting the architects and engineers see if it’s feasible to buy it,” he said.
McKay said he has not yet met with town staff and does not know if the proposed use is allowable.
“To say we’re in the early stages would be an understatement,” he said.
A former Goodwill Manasota board member who developed the organization’s Manatee County headquarters and is currently building several donation centers, McKay said that he helps Goodwill find sites to reach its goals.
“I’ve developed a lot of things over the years, but this, by far, is the most rewarding,” McKay said.
McKay said that the site was only being considered as a drop-off center that would employee one or two people, rather than a thrift store.
What happened to plans for a real estate office in the building?
The building at 6990 Gulf of Mexico Drive went under contract in November. Town staff had notified Longboat Key commissioners that Keller Williams planned to develop the property into a real estate office.
But according to Joanne Owens, principal, broker and owner of two Keller Williams on the Water franchises, the company did not plan to purchase the property. An investor considered buying the property, knowing that Keller Williams on the Water was interested in becoming the tenant, according to Owens.
“He’s moved on to other things,” Owens said of the buyer.
Richard and Alison Estrin first listed the gas station property through their Longview Realty more than five years ago and said they learned that the deal would not go through a few weeks ago.
“It was right at the deadline for canceling the deal and getting their deposit,” Richard Estrin said.
Owens said Keller Williams on the Water is negotiating space in the Centre Shops of Longboat Key.
“We’re coming to Longboat Key,” Owens said. “That’s a done deal.”
But will Goodwill come to the Key?
Alaina Ray, director of the Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Department, said that town staff spoke briefly on the phone Tuesday morning with a planner about the possibility and told the planner that a drop-off center would not be an allowable use.
Ray said that to add an allowable use, the town would have to make a text change in its zoning code. The change would have to be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Board and approved by the commission.
“When you start adding uses to the land development code, there has to be a compelling interest to do that, so that’s what the Town Commission would weigh, whether the addition of another use would provide a benefit to the community and would there be any detriment,” Ray said.
Longbeach Village resident Gene Jaleski, who is running for an at-large seat on the commission, briefly mentioned the possibility of a Goodwill drop-off center at the commission’s Tuesday regular workshop.
“That should really make people wake up if your community is trying to improve its image,” he said.
The Longbeach Chevron was once one of three gas stations that operated on the Key. A mid-Key Shell station has since closed, and the only remaining place to fuel up on the island is the south-end Mobil station.
Tampa-based J.H. Williams Oil Co. Inc. paid $512,100 for the property in August 2005.
The former Longbeach Chevron station has recently experience vandalism, according to Longboat Key police reports.
1:48 p.m. — 6900 block of GMD. Vandalism. Police noticed a small hole in the bottom corner of a vacant gas station window that was possibly caused by a BB gun.
10:54 a.m. — 6900 block of GMD. Vandalism. Police observed a shattered window at a vacant gas station and saw that someone had used the restroom, leaving behind feces. The keyholder learned about the broken window the night before from the property’s Realtor and planned to board it up the next day.