Hilton makes bid to expand, renovate
Ocean Properties Ltd., owner of Longboat Key’s Hilton as well as 30 other resort properties in Florida, has released its plans to give the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort a $25 million renovation.
“It’s a great location, with a great beach and a great area. The planned additional rooms with help meet market demands. The renovation will take things up a notch and make it a first-class resort destination,” said Ocean Properties Vice President of Operations Andy Berger.
Town Planning & Zoning Director Robin Meyer met with Berger, Ocean’s attorney John Patterson and Architect John Wurst of Coral Gables-based Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates in a June 19 meeting at Town Hall. Discussed and reviewed were overall plans that include: a complete renovation of the largest structure, tearing down most of the remaining existing structures, building a new reception area, large water features, a large courtyard, new swimming pool, rooms angled to optimize waterfront views and a larger meeting space that would double its current size (1,500 square feet to over 3,000 square feet) the current height would remain at 55 feet over parking.
Ocean plans to ask for approximately 85 of the 250 tourist units that residents voted into existence in 2008. It planned the renovation in 2009, however according to Berger, the recession stalled plans but a rebounding tourism industry has breathed new life into the plan. Demolition may begin as early as May 2013 with a planned renovation period of 10 to 12 months.
According to Patterson, no official builder has been selected. The original architect firm of the existing structures from 1973 has been retained for the new project.
“The existing Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort was designed by a fresh new hotel architect John Nichols and now we have hired his firm almost 40 years later for redevelopment,” said Berger.
Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates architectural and planning services specializes in the design of hotels, resorts, condo/hotels, office buildings, retail and mixed-use projects throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America. A short list of their clients includes: Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts and the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. They are the designer responsible for the Longboat Key Club & Resorts Islandside redevelopment.
“We took the existing layouts and upgraded everything, including expanding rooms and meeting spaces to bring the resort into next generation of hotels. The addition of 85 guest rooms with views of the Gulf, a large multimedia meeting room, new restaurants, etc. will all add to the ambiance of a upscale resort,” said Architect and Partner in Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates Jim Wurst.
Wurst also said that he and his family stayed at the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort when visiting Longboat Key to meet with Town officials.
“My family really enjoyed their stay on the property. They loved the beaches,” said Wurst.
Patterson said he expects to formally submit plans to the town by early September. The project complies with the town’s 150-foot setback, he said, the plans as they were originally drawn, would have needed a permit from the state because it will be seaward of the coastal construction setback line.
“After our meeting with Meyer, we are going to pull that back to comply so there will be no need for Gulf variances,” said Patterson.
According to Patterson, the engineering firm of George Young & Associates will be doing the engineering work, even though they are still working on contract negotiations.
The current site is 5.6 acres with expansive beach views and easy access to local attractions as well as Longboat Key restaurants and shops.
Ocean Properties LTD, which has owned the resort for six years, will be the first developer to tap into Longboat Key’s pool of additional tourism units since approval by voters.
Ocean Properties LTD is a Delray Beach-based company with over 30 other resort properties in Florida and a total of 107 properties in North America.
The added permitting tax dollars will be a boon to Longboat Key’s Planning & Zoning Department, but not to the Town’s overall future budget as the P&Z Department operates as an enterprise fund, so money brought in is used to cover department expenses.