The St. Regis Hotel and Residences on Longboat Keyreceived final approval Wednesday to develop a five-star resort at the site of the former The Colony and Tennis Resort, this time with unanimous support from the Town Commission.
However, the approvalwasn't without extensive discussion from Longboat Key's commissioners after the town's staff discovered the parking requirements for the hotel portion of the project had notbeen met.
Previously, some Longboat Key commissioners had balked at a reduction in parking spaces after the developer sought changes from a plan that had been hashed out in 2018. There was also some discontent over how close some of the axillary structures could be to the erosion control line.
The total parking spacesrequired by the town's codefor the theresortthat will eventually see 67 condos and166 hotel rooms built in the 1600 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive is 405.
Previous reporting: St. Regis clears hurdle to build $600 million beachfront resort and condos on Longboat Key
Area defining project?: St. Regis project on Longboat Key to lift Sarasotas national profile once complete
The project provided all those spaces, but the way they were apportioned had more spaces than required in the residential section, leaving a parking deficitforthe hotel.
Chuck Whittall, an Orlando-based developer behind the St. Regis project, came up with a solution between Oct. 6, when the first approval was received, and Wednesday's meeting.
Commissioner B.J. Bishop noted at the beginning of the meeting that some of the documents supplied by the development team had arrived as early as 7:39 a.m. on Wednesday.
The plan to provide the required spaces in the hotel would see lifts used on 62, allowing two cars to be parked in one space, exceeding the required parking by one space.
Commissioners Bishop and Debra Williams had previously expressed reservations regarding the reduction of parking spaces from the2018 development plan between the town and Whittall's Unicorp Developments Corp.
Bishop, who has installed a lift in her own garage on Longboat Key, grilled Whittall andexperts on parking lifts supplied by the development teamabout what types of cars would be able to use the lifts andhow they planned to operate the lifts at large events.
But ultimately, she said, the parking headaches that might arise from the lifts would not be her issue to solve;her duty wasjust make sure the property had the required parking.
Both Bishop and Williams also had issues with the location of a pair of open-air structures the developer planned to build closer to the erosion control line than town code allowed. An erosion control line is a state surveyed line that differentiates between private beach and public land.
At issue was an event pavilion that would have been built about 75 feet away from that line and a "Monkey Bar," which is an homage to The Colony's famous beach bar, would be built roughly 108 feet away from the erosion control line.
Thecommission decided by majority vote to allow the Monkey Bar, but deny the event pavilion.
While Bishop and Williams had voted against final site plan approval at the Oct. 6 meeting, Bishop said Wednesday she will never be happy about the location of the Monkey Bar, but that overall, she supported the project.
Applause from the audience broke out after the 6-0 vote. Whittall then invited all the commissioners to a ground breaking for the $600 million projectat the property on Monday.
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