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Heated Longboat Key hotel referendum campaign enters final phase

Debate over new hotel project faces critical Aug. 30 vote

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  • | 10:00 a.m. August 22, 2016
  • Longboat Key
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Despite the number of campaign signs lining Gulf of Mexico Drive in opposition, Floridays project manager James Brearley said he is “cautiously optimistic” ahead of the Aug. 30 referendum on rezoning 2.6 acres bordering Gulf of Mexico Drive to allow a new hotel in Longboat Key.

“We know that opposition exists, but we also are receiving emails and phone calls from supporters islandwide who want to make sure we know that they support and are excited about the North End Hotel and Beach Club,” Brearley said in an email.

The Longboat Key Town Commission approved a request from Sarasota-based developer Floridays to ask voters to add density on 2.6 acres of north-end land. The proposed hotel site would have a maximum of six tourism units per acre, which comes to 15 units, plus eligibility to apply for another 105 units from the commission.

If the referendum passes, Floridays will likely apply for the 105 additional units from a pool of 250 tourism units Longboat voters approved in 2008. Floridays would then build a 120-unit four-story hotel.

Preliminary plans from Floridays call for rooms of just under 400 square feet with few amenities and no beach access, according to critics.

Craig Walters, chairman of the Keep Longboat Special group lobbying against the hotel, said his group sent out a new mailer Friday, Aug. 19, emphasizing the quality of life aspect of the issue.

“Call it what you will, but unlike the Key Club, Colony and new Zota Beach Resort (former Hilton) the Floridays hotel is little more than a motor hotel with no beachfront or comparable resort amenities,” according to the KLS mailer.

The project is a quarter-mile from the northern gateway to Longboat Key, adjacent to a neighborhood of single-family homes and historic cottages across the road from two-story condominiums and beachfront homes.

Some residents have protested plans for the new hotel by citing traffic concerns and saying the added room units would be put to better use revitalizing existing island properties.

Brearley said Floridays has focused on informational campaigning.

“We have done our best to let people know this is the first step in allowing the Longboat Key Planning Department to formally consider the project,” his email read.

“If approved, we intend to build a true boutique hotel that serves as a gathering place and an amenity for the entire Longboat community.”

James Brearley, Floridays project manager

If voters approve the referendum, developers will file for a rezone and comprehensive plan amendment to change the property’s future land use in September, said Alaina Ray, Longboat Key director of planning, zoning and building.

Keep Longboat Special hopes voters turn out, Walters said.

 “Hundreds of Floridays hotel guests would drive each day to reach beaches, restaurants, St. Armands and Sarasota,” the mailer reads. “

"We already have more hotels and traffic than our roads can handle. Vote No August 30.”

Keep Longboat Special mailer



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