Hilton expansion on agenda

Associate Publisher

Town commissioners will consider the Hilton site plan to expand the hotel at 4711 Gulf of Mexico Drive on Monday, Jan. 6 at its regular meeting.

The site plan was originally approved by the Planning and Zoning Board on Dec. 17, and includes an additional 85 tourism units for the hotel. The Hilton plan is the first project to request additional tourism units from the town; a pool of 250 additional tourism units are available for development within existing tourism districts as passed by voters via referendum on March 18, 2008.

The Hilton is zoned as a T-6 High Density Tourist Resort/Commercial District and sits on 4.76 acres along Gulf of Mexico Drive.

The site plan application includes removing all of the currently existing accessory buildings, which will be replaced with a new 150-seat restaurant, a 3,000 square foot meeting space, lobby area, new administrative areas, new service areas and swimming pool. Also, the current tower with its 102 hotel rooms will be gutted and renovated, and an additional new tower will be built to the south of that tower with the 85 tourism units, for a total of 187 rooms. The same architect, John Nichols, who built the Hilton originally is being hired to redesign the resort.

Additional landscaping will augment the buffering between the hotel and Gulf of Mexico Drive. The application states that the mature native trees will remain, and additional vegetation will be planted along the sides of the property.

The traffic ingress and egress lanes will be preserved as they currently exist, and although there is a current left turn lane for northbound traffic to enter the hotel, there is no right turn lane dedicated to the southbound traffic. Therefore, although the Planning and Zoning Board gave the site plan approval, they recommended to the commission that a deceleration/tapered right lane be constructed at the southbound entrance of the hotel to accommodate traffic. The application also includes a new walkway connection between the Hilton and the adjacent bus stop, with a shelter to be built at the bus stop as it is a highly utilized stop. Sidewalks were also recommended for the site plan by town staff as one of the conditions for approval. The Hilton application includes 215 parking spaces on site, and town code requires 214.

If the site plan is approved at Monday’s commission meeting, the Hilton can move forward with renovation, and the project could break ground as early as May 2014. The project is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2015.



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