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Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 10, 2021 5 days ago

City approves height increase for Lido condo

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A developer plans to build a 10-story, 70-unit residential building on the site of the Gulf Beach Motel and Coquina on the Beach.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Despite the objections of some neighboring residents, the City Commission ruled that a project up to 135 feet tall at 930 and 1008 Benjamin Franklin Drive would be compatible with its surroundings, allowing plans for a 10-story condominium project to advance.

On Tuesday, the commission held a public hearing on a requested rezone for the 3.89-acre Lido Key property. The Ronto Group, a Naples-based developer, intends to build a 70-unit condo on the site of the Gulf Beach Motel and Coquina on the Beach hotel. The rezone application sought to change the classification of the land from residential multifamily to waterfront resort, a revision that would increase the maximum buildable height from 95 to 135 feet.

The condo project would replace two existing hotel buildings on Lido Key.

Brenda Patten, a land use attorney representing the developer, argued the rezoning proposal was in line with the city’s comprehensive plan. The city’s future land use map lists waterfront resort as an allowable implementing zone district on the property. Patton said the city has not denied a similar rezoning request in the past two decades.

The proposal drew opposition from some neighboring residents who said the height increase would be out of character with the existing buildings near the project site. Patten pushed back against that assertion, noting that many residents who raised those complaints resided in condominiums that are eight stories tall. 

“It kind of escapes me how they can say our building is not compatible with the neighborhood,” Patten said.

Patten said the effects of the building on view corridors would not meaningfully change whether it was built at 95 feet under existing zoning or 135 feet under the new zoning. A majority of the commission expressed a similar perspective. Commissioner Liz Alpert notedother properties in the area are under the waterfront resort zoning, and existing structures such as the Lido Beach Resort already exceed the proposed height on Benjamin Franklin Drive.

“I just don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t go ahead and approve this,” Alpert said.

The Ronto Group has not yet filed a site plan for the condo, but the developer has committed to creating a new public beach access point as part of the project.

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