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Year in Review – Lido Pavilion restaurant plan cancelled

This year, the plan by the owners of the Daiquiri Deck to develop the Lido Pool and Pavilion into a 250-seat restaurant, tiki bar and private cabanas came to an end on Feb. 19.

Back in January, following months of ever-increasing opposition from residents and the business community, the Daiquiri Deck owners told the City Commission that it wished to withdraw its plan if the City would agree to pay for its “out-of-pocket” expenses.

The applicants, Troy Syprett and Gavin Meshad, under the entity Lido Beach Redevelopment, LLC, have gone back and forth with Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier to arrive at a total request of $206, 224 as a request to withdraw its plan and end the lease that the City approved in the previous year.

Their request came as a surprise to the City Commission because on the agenda was the final hurdle to allow the plan to proceed. That hurdle was an application for a Major Conditional Use permit that hinged on the commission voting in its favor, and finding that the plan was compatible with neighboring uses.

An attorney for Mark Walsh, who owns the Lido Beach Resort and other properties on Lido Key, said that Walsh would donate $175,000 if the City agreed to terminate the plan and instead built or renovated the structure in a manner that had community support and was compatible with the neighborhood and was not leased to a private entity.

Attorney Fournier officially recommended approval of the Proposed Lease Cancelation and Termination Agreement. Fournier gave numerous reasons for his recommendation including what he said was a virtual certainty that if the application for the pavilion plan moved forward the City would end up spending far in excess of the amount recommended for reimbursement before the decision of the City Commission became final.

Fournier went on to say that both the City staff and the Lido Beach Pool Committee should accept some share of responsibility for the sequence of events.

Fournier noted that the applicant had done what the City had requested throughout the process and that the applicant had reduced the scope of development as requested. He also said that if the hearing on the application went forward, the potential existed for at least four separate lawsuits because of the interested parties.

Another issue favoring the City paying the money to make the lease and redevelopment plan go away, said Fournier, was the fact that the Planning Board made a recommendation finding that the application was not consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. He said these would likely be eligible for appeal and would require expert testimony and costly litigation.

The opposition to the plan also questioned whether the redevelopment proposal met Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) requirements. That would be another source of a likely challenge that could even occur if a building permit was issued.

Another possible litigation action could be a challenge to the validity of the lease agreement.

It was this potential litigation as well as the strength of the opposition coupled with the value of the lease that lead Fournier to be of the opinion that the cost to the City would be greater over time than reimbursing the applicants their stated expenses.

Fournier also cited the offer by Walsh through his entity ‘Logan Acquisitions’ as constructive in that some portion of the reimbursement made to Lido Beach Redevelopment, LLC would be offset.

The largest itemized expense was the legal fees charged to the Lido Beach Redevelopment by Sarasota attorneys Icaard, Merrill, Cullis & Timm. Those fees total more than $73,000. The other sizable out-of-pocket expense requested was about $67,000 in architecture and landscape architecture costs.

The concession stand at Lido Beach is now temporarily closed while the City repairs the pavilion. In its place, food trucks will be available most days of the week to provide service for beachgoers.

Crews will first be installing a new vent hood in the kitchen and a new long-lasting metal roof. This work coincides with the expiration of the City’s contract with the current vendor at the concession stand. The City is in the process of evaluating bids for the continuation of the food and beverage service once the renovation work is complete, tentatively scheduled for December. Once this phase of work is complete, there will be additional upgrades to the pavilion, including the installation of a shaded concrete patio and an update to the restrooms.

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