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St. Regis parking lot approved, ending lengthy parking debate

The public hearing on Oct. 2 saw no public comment and a stamp of approval on the new parking lot plans.

Drone pictures from August 2023 show the St. Regis Longboat Key making progress ahead of its expected March 2024 completion.
Drone pictures from August 2023 show the St. Regis Longboat Key making progress ahead of its expected March 2024 completion.
Courtesy photo
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The saga of parking struggles for the St. Regis Longboat Key has come to an end. 

On Oct. 2, the second public hearing for the newest amendments to the project ended with a unanimous vote from the Longboat Key Town Commission to approve the amended plans. 

“Today, we’re celebrating the shortest hearing,” Mayor Ken Schneier said, leading the room to burst out in applause.  

The changes focused on the parking for the development. 

Back in June, public hearings were held to discuss the proposed parking garage set forth by Unicorp National Developments, Inc. The parking garage plans were met with opposition from the community and commission during the June 5 public hearing. 

Commissioners voted to draft an order of denial at the June 5 hearing, but Unicorp President Chuck Whittall asked for a continuance at the June 20 public hearing.

He wanted more time to come up with a better solution — a balance he struck with the community and his project. 

To accommodate enough parking, Whittall and his team came up with a solution to add surface parking to the lot. The plans expanded a 33-space lot to a 93-space lot, and added 12 spaces to the entrance driveway. 

Additionally, the 62 mechanical lift spaces that were previously proposed as a possible solution are now removed from the plans. 

In total, the new plans represent a net gain of one parking space from the original 2021 plans. 

The changes in surface lot coverage also produce a loss of 3,203 square feet of impervious surface. 

Unicorp’s attorney Brenda Patten had nothing new to add at the hearing, and was met with no public comment on the matter. 

“I did want to thank you very much for your patience and your endurance and your astute analysis and comments over all these many months, and maybe years,” Patten said.

Many of the town commissioners shared the sentiment of relief that the parking matter had finally been put to rest. 

Schneier and District 1 Commissioner Gary Coffin spoke about how important The Colony Tennis and Beach Resort was to Longboat Key’s community. 

Coffin said his kids worked there, and he’s looking forward to seeing how a similar relationship continues to develop between the St. Regis and Longboat Key. 

“The Colony worked itself into the fabric of our community,” Coffin said. “And I think very much so that the St. Regis property will do the same thing.”

Coffin also commented that the lengthy process filled with approvals, denials and legal matters has been a learning experience. He added how this situation set a precedent to show how the community and town can work together on issues at hand. 

Patten said that the St. Regis is on schedule to finish construction in March 2024, with the opening expected around 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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