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Longboat Key Friday, Jan. 8, 2010 8 years ago

UPDATE: Loeb CEO testifies

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s $400 million Islandside renovation-and-expansion hearing was almost not presented by club officials to the Town Commission Friday, Jan. 8, at Temple Beth Israel.

Commissioner Hal Lenobel told more than 100 residents, lawyers and town staff in attendance Friday that after reading the town’s Comprehensive Plan (the town’s constitution for land use regulations), he found it incoherent.

“I firmly believe amendments to the Comprehensive Plan are imperative to prevent future problems and I am asking for legislative amendments before we concern ourselves with this project,” Lenobel said.

But after an hour-and-a-half of discussion deciding whether or not the commission should hear the presentation in its entirety or handle its potential Comprehensive Plan issues first, commissioners voted 6-1 to review the entire project first.

The daylong hearing continued with Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson’s staff report, which does not recommend approval of the project at this time while it works with club officials to work through traffic and open-space calculation concerns.

Friday afternoon, the chairman and CEO of Loeb Partners Realty told the Town Commission that the Key Club and the Islandside project its proposing is a long-term investment for his company’s more than $3 billion U.S. real-estate portfolio.

“It’s one of my favorite properties in our portfolio and I own a piece of it myself,” Lesser said.

Lesser told the commission that “not one dime” of the Key Club has been distributed to his company’s investors over the last 10 years, so the property’s profits can be funneled back into projects such as The Tennis Gardens, the purchase of the Harbourside marina and the Islandside project.

Lesser told Islandside Property Owners Coalition attorney Michael Furen that he could not guarantee the five-star hotel would be built.

Said Lesser: “I can tell you it’s our intent to do so. We wouldn’t have spent the money we have in preparation for this project otherwise.”

The Islandside project calls for constructing a new Rees Jones-designed golf course; a new clubhouse; a 196-room, five-star hotel with an additional 34 units to be used for luxury residences; a new meeting center; two villa townhomes with a total of 10 units; two condominium buildings with 66 units each; a new wellness center with enhanced spa-and-fitness facilities; and other recreational amenities for club members and guests.

The commission is charged with making the ultimate decision on the project and the issues the club still has with some of the conditions proposed, which include figuring out a way to guarantee the five-star hotel will be built. The commission will meet again at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11, at Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road, to continue the club’s presentation.

For more information on the first two days of hearings, visit for updates and pick up a copy of the Thursday, Jan. 14 Longboat Observer.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].


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