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New St. Regis parking plans eliminate garage, expand parking lot

Unicorp National Development’s latest plans for parking at the St. Regis development responded to the community’s opposition to a two-story parking garage.

The new St. Regis parking plans sent to Longboat Key staff include some interior changes to impervious surfaces.
The new St. Regis parking plans sent to Longboat Key staff include some interior changes to impervious surfaces.
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Unicorp National Developments has submitted a new proposal for an increase in parking for the St. Regis development. The two-story parking structure has been removed from discussion, and the new plans incorporate an expanded surface parking lot. 

The newest plan proposes a total of 469 parking spaces, which is one more than the total proposed in 2021. In the new total, a 93-space parking lot and 12 surface spots are proposed. An increase in landscaping from the 2021 plan is also included in the newest proposal.

After the 2021 plans were proposed, Unicorp CEO Chuck Whittall said the company realized parking lifts were not ideal and could lead to operational problems. Additionally, Whittall said an increase in travel and demand for luxury leads Marriott to believe the St. Regis will be a “very successful, top U.S. luxury resort destination.” Whittall said he knows the hotel will be busier than expected because of this, and wants to ensure the resort delivers the best quality in the most efficient manner. 

The proposal to increase parking from the 2021 plan via a two-story parking garage met with opposition from some members of the community. 

After the Town Commission rejected the parking garage in June, Whittall said he challenged his engineers to reimagine a way to add more parking and landscaping.

This led to the current proposal, which removes the 62 lift spaces and 38-space lot of the 2021 plan. Instead, a lot that includes 93 spaces has been designed, while also adding 12 surface spaces. The changes represent a 3.2% decrease in lot coverage and 0.5% decrease in open space. The additional lot spaces come from removal of portions of the development's interior roadways. The proposal adds 60 more trees than were planned in 2021 to try to improve the buffer around the parking lot. 

“We hope the community would get on board for this,” Whittall said. “We’re trying to make this project community friendly and guest friendly.” 

Town staff will now review the proposal. According to Town Manager Howard Tipton, the town’s landscape architect will conduct the first review, and then the proposal will be reviewed according to the town's rules for development. A staff report will be sent to commissioners in advance to the first public hearing. 

The proposal will be heard during the first public hearing on Sept. 18 with a second public hearing to follow on Oct. 2. 

According to Whittall, all other aspects of the St. Regis project are going smoothly and are still slated to be finished next year, with an opening date of July 2024.



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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