- February 8, 2023
Following nearly five hours of discussion at its March 8 meeting, the Sarasota Planning Board has not completed its legislative hearing on a request to amend the general development plan for The Quay.
Not even close, in fact.
The matter will require perhaps another five hours — plus one month in between — for board members to complete the hearing and have a discussion before making their recommendation to the City Commission. The hearing was continued until the Planning Board's next regularly scheduled meeting on April 12. That meeting will begin at 9 a.m.
“This is a legislative public hearing where it is really a policy decision,” Deputy City Attorney Michael Connelly told board members before opening the hearing. “You're being asked to make a recommendation to the City Commission on a policy matter. The specific language that the applicant is looking to add to the development agreement is the following: ‘Any block site plan may include blocks one and nine and vertical development over Quay Commons between Blocks 1and 9.’ Your job is to make a recommendation to the City Commission whether it's good policy.”
For more than three hours on Wednesday, the Planning Board heard testimony by staff, and by attorneys for the developer of One Park and those representing current condominium owners in The Quay who oppose the change. That was followed by some 25 public commenters. When it continues next month, there may be as many as 60 more speakers who have already signed up — each granted three minutes — plus time for rebuttal by both sides, questioning by board members and finally board deliberation.
Approval of the requested amendment to the GDP, which is a 2016 agreement between the city and general developer GreenPointe, would permit One Park to be built over Quay Commons — the primary private street serving The Quay — at a height of about 20 feet above what project developer Quay 1 & 9 proposes as an amenity-rich breezeway serving the entire community.
Meanwhile, litigation is pending in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court as owners in The Ritz-Carlton Residences, otherwise known as Block 6, have challenged the ownership of the air rights over Quay Commons. They claim that the air rights above street, which is common property, are required to be conveyed to the master association. Those rights cannot, they allege, be conveyed to the One Park developers.
The hearing is scheduled for a three-week period beginning May 8.
That legal decision, Connelly told the Planning Board, could render the GDP amendment matter moot, although he predicted appeals to the verdict, regardless of the outcome, may take years to complete.
Although the One Park site plan was not up for discussion, the building itself was frequently raised as One Park attorneys Bill Merrill and Matt Brockway extolled the virtues of the design and its benefits. Likewise Robert Lincoln, who represents Block 6, raised objections to the site plan, saying it would effectively be the equivalent of a third tower over a third nonesxistent lot, the space developed above Quay Commons wider than several downtown condo buildings.
“This isn't a site plan review. We keep saying that, then we immediately ask site plan questions,” said Planning Board Chairman Daniel Clermont. “But I think it's germane to ask the questions because we're making determination whether or it should be one building or two.”
Many opponents who spoke before the meeting was continued also talked about the building, pointing to the original development plan that showed — in visual representations and in text — separate buildings on Blocks 1 and 9 and an open-to-the- sky, tree-lined street running from the Bayso tower on the south end to Boulevard of the Arts on the north. They purchased their homes based on that plan, many said, and object to any change after the fact.
There were also speakers in support of One Park, one of them a Bayso buyer who said he was fully aware of the One Park Plan and welcomes the building. Bayso residents are expected to begin occupying their units this fall.