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Too tall buildings on Longboat Key…

GENE JALESKI
Contributing Writer
jaleski@lbknews.com

To make Longboat Key look like Marco Island or not to make Longboat  Key look like Marco Island. That is the question confronting our community.

Given the results of the last three density referendums, I believe a disconnect exists between the commission and our community concerning increased visually tall building density along our gulf shore.

This brings me to once again comment on what is going on at town hall, allowing 100 foot towers along the beach, up and down the island. I feel there is a need for the commissioners to establish a clear correlation between the aspirations of island property owners and what is being proposed by the commissioners.

There was a time when the commissioners went out of their way to find out what their community wanted, when it came to density and the architectural profile of  Longboat. The original PIC was all about building resident consensus through public dialog. We can thank their efforts for creating one of the premier island communities in America, where properties values have increased, due to brisk demand, for more than four decades. The community leader’s efforts to reach the residents concerning replacement of tourist units lost to condominium conversions was admiral and successful.

Because of our strict building codes, our island continues to get better and better, while Anna Maria is drowning in intensive tourism and resident flight.

Spin forward a decade,  an upscale home building boom and a new generation of residents, and we see a huge shift in resident sentiments concerning increased density, with resounding successive defeats of commercial tourism developer density referendums. The residents are shouting we like our island just the way it is and we do not want more density. That should be very clear to the town commission by now.

Now the commissioners seem intent on drastically increasing the height and bulk of all older condominiums west of GMD along the beach. The commission is not asking the community what it wants. I believe this is doing a disservice to all Longboat property owners.

Anyone who has visited Marco Island has seen the wall of tall condominiums and hotels that dominate and separate the rest of the community from the beach. Our shoreline, one the other hand, has a low profile, where structures are generally set back from the beach. This is particularly true in the Manatee County half of the island. Driving along the shore road on Marco Island is similar to the high-rise experience of Boca Raton, while our road is beautiful and low profile for the most part.

I am opposed to passing town ordinances that may open the gates to developers, who will buy out older condominium owners and build massive towers along the west side of the island, and market them as commercial tourism rental properties.

In the absence of any community outcry about the current non-conforming condominium building restrictions, I believe the commission needs to cease to open up the island to a possible radical shift in both shoreline building profiles and tourism. One only has to see the out-of-hand tourism mess in Panama City Beach, that resulted by that town commission doing almost exactly what is being quickly legislated by our town commissioners. The wall to wall condominiums in Panama City Beach were marketed as commercial tourism investments. Now the town is overrun with young part-goers all summer and every weekend and holiday vacation. I do not believe Longboat residents want our commission to make such a mistake.

I am proposing that the town conduct a survey of community sentiments concerning high-rises along the beach.  They also need to be clear, when they disseminate information to the public about their building height deliberations, that their 80 foot structure is everyone eases’ 80 foot structure sitting on 10 feet of garage and 10 feet of equipment enclosures on the roof. Just like the too tall houses in Country Club Shores, buildings that are physically 100 feet tall above the ground are not seen as 80 foot tall structures as the commissioners would like us to believe. In this I feel the town is not being completely unambiguous.

As part of any discussion about relaxing building codes along the shore, the commission must find a way to protect our community from becoming just another Panama City Beach tourist mecca.

 

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1 Response for “Too tall buildings on Longboat Key…”

  1. ghostrider says:

    The Michael Kors Paradox.

    If you purchase 2.25 acres for $6 million what would you expect to be built? A house for two million dollars in construction costs? That would make the package $8 million. If five years, however, the rising price of the land would make the house $0. Within the aforementioned lies your problem. How many units and for how much? Is $1000/sq foot acceptable?

    You need height to make a “reasonable” profit and to protect your “investment.”. You need a lot of height. :)
    When you have old carnivores making policy you end up with Marco Island….or worse. Everything on Longboat is tied to only one activity.

    When you are 75 you are NOT concerned about the long-term. After all, it will be okay for at least ten years, you think.

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