When would Ocean Properties Ltd. like to begin redeveloping the Islandside property of the Longboat Key Club?
“Three years ago,” jokes Mark Walsh, vice president of the Delray Beach-based company.
What would it like to develop and how much would it like to develop?
Ocean Properties is still determining the specifics, including the number of units, but Walsh can say this:
“It’ll be mixed-use development with both tourism and residential,” he said.
Sarasota attorney John Patterson — whose firm, Shutts & Bowen LLP, represents New Hampshire-based Ocean Properties affiliate NAECO LLC — wrote in a Nov. 9 letter to the Longboat Key Town Commission that his client “wishes to redevelop a portion of its property in Islandside including residential and tourism (a hotel, a meeting center, and related facilities, including restaurants).”
The first step of the process, outlined in last week’s Longboat Observer, is to get a referendum before voters in a special election to determine whether tourism will be allowed on the property.
“We need the referendum to get in motion because it has a very long lead time,” Walsh said of the process.
According to Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray, a referendum typically has a lead time of four to five months.
“In the meantime, what we’ll be doing is finalizing conceptual plans with neighbors and the town,” Walsh said.
The process of finalizing plans will include further discussions with the Islandside Property Owners Coalition (IPOC), which successfully won challenges in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court and 2nd District Court of Appeals against a $400 million Islandside plan the Longboat Key Town Commission approved in 2010.
IPOC also challenged changes the town made to its codes and Comprehensive Plan to clarify the project, leading to 12th Judicial Circuit Judge Lee Haworth’s ruling requiring the town to hold a referendum vote.
Ocean Properties will not file an application until it has voter approval for tourism on the property.
Asked how the application will compare with the previous application, filed by former owner Loeb Partners Realty Group in 2008, Walsh said: “That wasn’t my application, so I can’t answer that.”
IPOC President Bob White said he was not surprised to learn that Ocean Properties will seek a referendum.
“I anticipate that within the next week or two, we will be having some discussion about the plan,” he said.
He said he does not oppose redevelopment of the property and described himself as “optimistic” this time around.
“I think that really it is a matter of how many units they ask for and whether it’s of the scale that’s appropriate for what they want to develop,” White said.
Ocean Properties purchased the Key Club in October 2012. Prior to the purchase, company officials met with IPOC leaders to discuss potential plans.
The company owns more than 100 hotels, including the Gulfside Beach Resort (the former Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort that’s currently closed for redevelopment), Lido Beach Holiday Inn, Lido Beach Resort, Resort at Longboat Key Club and Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach.
“We’re looking forward to coming up with something real positive here,” Walsh said. “The goal has always been to come in and do something that will enhance the club.”
Former Longboat Key Club owner Loeb Partners Realty Group submitted the last application to redevelop the Islandside property in 2008, and in case you missed the four-and-a-half-year saga, here’s how it played out.
The Longboat Key Town Commission approved a $400 million plan after approximately 25 public hearings, but the Islandside Property Owners Coalition (IPOC) appealed the development order by which the commission approved it.
In December 2011, 12th Judicial Circuit Judge Charles Roberts ruled in favor of IPOC, quashing the development order. The 2nd District Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in August 2012.
Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Lee Haworth ruled in favor of IPOC in November 2012 in its challenge to code changes the commission passed to make the projects clearer under town codes. The ruling required the town to hold a referendum to determine whether voters approve of tourism on the property.