North end hotel plan bad for property values, traffic

Editor & Publisher

Most activity is governed by so-called vested interests. It is biological determinism. It is an edict of self-preservation.

When it comes to the idea of building a 120-room hotel on North Longboat Key, the vested interests collide and voters are being pressured and cajoled from each side with claims of what is best for their beloved island.

Yet a simple truth remains — unless one has a certain fetish or delight in adding tourists and traffic to their neighborhood — the proposal to rezone the property to allow no less than 120 hotel units on the 2.62 acre site is simply a bad idea for anyone interested in the long-term evolution of Longboat Key.

The reason to vote against the rezone proposal is not a case of NIMBYism in the least. It is the case of someone coming in and wishing to alter your neighborhood for the worse. The reality is the proposal would drastically alter the entire north end of the Key by allowing the most dense tourism property on Longboat Key to be built.


Debate without substance

Any debate over projected room rates or “boutique” quality is engaging in a battle of supposition minus substance. The fact remains the Town cannot control the quality of design or the room rates or whether it is a boutique hotel or not. Once the Town approves the zoning change and allocates the units, the developer has a building envelope that can allow anything that meets our codes.

Remember, the owners of the parcels and Floridays have no vested right to any dwelling units. They are asking voters to make that determination. Floridays is asking voters to add tremendous value to their 2.62-acre option and idea at the cost of devaluing residents’ very own property and lifestyle.

Let’s talk traffic.

Nothing will add more traffic to the north end than an overbuilt hotel. That is a simple fact.

The site is so diminutive it will not be a resort. There will be little to nothing to do so every visitor will hop in their car and drive around the Village and the Key and go to the beach. They will not be walking and taking the SCAT bus no matter what we tell ourselves. A hotel would add hundreds of vehicle trips per day to an area that backs up with traffic congestion every afternoon in season.

Another major consideration is the idea of property values. The Longboat Commission has adopted a Mission Statement that says its duty is in part to enhance property values on the Key. Encouraging second-rate hotel sites is in direct conflict with this measure.

Keep in mind that the closed Holiday Inn and Colony were on prime beachfront. The rooms Floridays seeks will simply face pavement, not water.

At best, a North-end hotel will command rates of half of what the former Colony could in season. We had Presidents and Vice Presidents and all manner of stars and celebrities stay at the Colony. And while it sounds snobbish, why would Longboaters want to give away coveted Tourism units out of its finite pool to anything other than a top-tier proposal and location?

Longboat Key will simply move down-market if this plan is approved and all of the Village property values will be diminished.


Seclusion, exclusivity, safety, pristine

These are words to describe our north end. Why would anyone spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and perhaps millions of dollars on a home and then vote in a super dense hotel that will pack a couple of hundred of tourists a night on a site that should at best allow 8 to 10 residences?

It simply is not in the vested interest of property owners or voters at large.


What to do…

This is not a case of “I better vote ‘Yes’ because no one else will come along.” In other words, it is far wiser in life to stay home than go on a bad date.

Most residents prefer to see the site become residential or be purchased and turned into a north-end park.

As for the idea of the Town purchasing the property to build such a park or gateway entrance, the cost would likely be no more than $1.7 million to acquire the property. The Town has money in its land acquisition fund — the same fund it has used to purchase land mid-Key and at the Town Center near Publix.

If the Town bought this property it would do as much toward beautifying the Key as undergrounding the power lines. It would eliminate the blight. It would give north-end residents a public space to be proud of and it would meet the Commission’s own planning initiative of improving and defining the gateways to our island.

Even if voters feel that a park is not an ideal solution, the property should not be rezoned for a hotel. If not a park, the other best and highest use would be an upscale residential development. That would be compatible. That would enhance values.

The Town leaders can do better than simply let everything contentious go to referendum. And this referendum question borders on duplicitous. The Commission created a methodology that allowed this vote to come to pass cloaked as a simple request for a rezone to Tourism. Nowhere is it clear that 120 or even more units can then be allocated to the tiny site. Voters have to connect the developer’s and the Town’s convoluted planning dots.

For so many reasons this hotel and this method of getting units crow-barred onto the tiny parcel should be stopped on August 30.

Remember, when you fill out your ballot, just like on a bad date you should forcefully avail yourself of the word ”No” if the proposition simply does not make sense.

With that in mind and more importantly with the integrity, the beauty and the property values of Longboat Key’s future in mind, vote “No” on August 30.


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15 Responses for “North end hotel plan bad for property values, traffic”

  1. Jos. Chiarella says:

    I hope everyone reads this and comes to the same conclusion I did when I walked the site. It is TINY.

    There’s no way this will be a ‘resort’, I can’t even figure out where 120 cars will park, let alone where all these guests will sleep. There are alternatives- some developer might put up some single family homes, or a small condo; many residents would welcome a nice smaller place to ‘downsize’ to.

    Now let’s look at the amount of time and effort our elected officials have spent on this tiny parcel, time they could have spent with Sarasota, Manatee and FDOT officials to fight for our freedom to come and go from our island. Traffic is most residents main concern, I for one am tired of hearing how ‘powerless’ everyone is.

    The traffic circle to the north, the poorly timed traffic signals to the north and south, the wandering pedestrians all over St. Armand’s Circle (and the crosswalks where very few cross) all need some time and effort, some good-old-fashioned lobbying with our neighbors to solve. Let’s ask our leaders to focus on an issue that involves 99% of our island and stop paying so much attention to this sad little property. Vote NO and then move on to tackle more important issues.

  2. Peter Pezowicz says:


    Great editorial and thoughtful analysis. You put forth a very compelling argument against this proposed referendum.

    Why would the citizens of LBK want to sacrifice our pristine island by allowing irresponsible development in the form of a “low budget” hotel which would not even be built on the beach but on the main thoroughfare of the island. A facility on the main thoroughfare would add more traffic, pollution and beach congestion while at the same time lower the quality of life and property values on the island. And for what, so that some developer who has no interest in our island can make a quick buck and move on?

    The property owners of LBK have only one say in this matter. Only through your “no” vote can we stop this proposal. Please vote “no” on this referendum on August 30.

  3. Allen Olender says:

    Excellent editorial. Most of us who purchased property on LBK did so to enjoy the beauty and peaceful atmosphere of the Island. Tourists and excess traffic were not part of the package. Developers that cater to transient visitors need to look elsewhere.

  4. Bob Bunting says:

    Development can be a good thing or a bad thing. Not all development is equal. Steve has made a powerful case in this article. I for one can not understand why this idea has even been considered. After many years of density rules we now have a plan on the table that not only breaks the rules but sets a new and troubling standard for all of LBK. Just 2 miles north of the site we have Anna Maria…a nightmare of density, traffic and undesirable results.

    I just voted NO and posted my vote. When the site in question is developed, let’s make it good development. As suggested, a park or high end residential development is the highest and best use for this property. Please vote NO and let’s move on and let our town government concentrate on other important issues. There certainly are plenty of them on the table that need attention. This proposal is clearly not worth the investment of time, money and headaches that will occur if the YES crowd wins.


    I bought condo on the South End of LBK two years ago, near the Longboat Key resort/club . At the time, I was unaware that a Hotel and Conference center, condos and villas were going to be built adjacent to the Chart House–or worse–on the site where the Chart House stands. Many were against it from the inception, I am told: some condo associations hired lawyers. But, in the end for naught. Residents had the opportunity to vote, yet apparently did not participate enough to defeat it. This time, there is a strong movement to defeat the North End proposal. There must be oversight, as voting results are tallied–one cannot assume that they will be fairly counted. Keep writing about it as a Headline story. Thank you.

  6. Mark Zintel says:

    >”This is not a case of “I better vote ‘Yes’ because no one else will come along.” In other words, it is far wiser in life to stay home than go on a bad date.”<

    Steve- This is the crux of your editorial. Bad dates are not fun. I'd rather stay home and watch "Breaking Bad."

  7. Valerie Utley-Ward says:

    Could not agree more! A park would be awesome! We bought our condo on LBK on the Gulf because it was Away from the congestion but has access to so much. The traffic has become horrible just in the last 4 years. And will become much worse with the planned developments in manatee, Bradenton, and Sarasota, let alone the LBK Hilton & Colony. It’s possible that current owners will move to a less densely populated environment if LBK lowers its standards. The key club has also changed for the worst.

  8. Steve Keller says:

    Steve Reid’s well-written July 29, 2016 editorial on the North End development ballot referendum was right on the money. We have arrived at the Development tipping point on LBK – beyond which our values will surely erode. The responsible decision on the part of our Town Government would be to buy this property and turn it into a Public Park. That would surely enhance our values – a mission which our Town leaders were elected to pursue.

    Steve Keller

  9. Oksana Bashuk Hepburn says:

    Well said! Residents have only ONE opportunity to say NO to the development. ONly ONE! Say NO on August 30th.

  10. Jill Nemeth says:

    Thank you for spelling it out so clearly – this is a really bad proposal and no one on Longboat Key stands to benefit in any way.

  11. William Kary says:

    Sounds as if the Villagers have you in their back pocket…

  12. Lizzie Brown says:

    Thank you for stating all the logical points AGAINST this project so very clearly in order that now everyone can understand the awful outcome of allowing this to go ahead.

  13. Carla Rowan says:

    I have read and re-read your comprehensive editorial of 7/29 addressing the “hotel referendum”. Fantastic bit of clear thinking. Thank you very, very much!

  14. Carol says:

    Awesome and well written. You are absolutely right on the money. Thank you for a great editorial.

  15. Jim Gardner says:

    Your “At best” paragraph makes an excellent point. Relying on a second rate motel to do all the wonderful things for the North End and Longboat as a whole, that have been assured will happen, is a fool’s bet.

    Incidentally, the two “electioneering communication” mailers that everyone has received,that purport to speak wisely concerning a “yes vote”, have interesting points of origin. One address is that of Floridays’ Sarasota office and the other is that of an undistinguished single family house in Jensen Beach.

    Jim Gardner

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