6 p.m. event to be conducted via Zoom
At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, the project team proposing a 120-room hotel and parking garage accessible from Old Stickney Point Road on Siesta Key will conduct a virtual Neighborhood Workshop on the applications submitted to Sarasota County staff in November.
An advertisement that appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on Nov. 20 said the event would be held via Zoom “on November TBD, 2020 at 6 p.m.” In response to questions about that, Michele Norton, the county’s Planning and Zoning Division manager, explained in a statement issued to The Sarasota News Leader and other publications the same afternoon, “Neighborhood Workshop advertisements are the responsibility of the applicant, not Sarasota County.” The applicant, she added, “erroneously posted the wrong advertisement, so they will have to re-advertise that the posted meeting will take place on Dec. 2.”
Anyone interested in participating in the event, a county document says, may visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84742112223?pwd=bFNIQ1N. To participate by phone, a person may call 312-626-6799 and use the Meeting ID 879 7887 1482. The password is 951062.
Siesta resident Gary Kompothecras, a chiropractor and business owner known for his 1-800-ASK-GARY medical and legal referral service, proposed the hotel project several years ago.
The parking garage parcel, which encompasses approximately 0.58 acres, is located at 1237 Old Stickney Point Road, the corresponding application notes. The property is zoned Commercial Intensive within the Siesta Key Overlay District zoning regulations (CI/SKOD). It formerly was the site of a Bank of America branch. After the bank decided to close that facility, Kompothecras purchased the parcel and demolished the structure. The land is used as a commercial parking lot, the application says.
Kompothecras and his project team have proposed a five-story parking garage that would be 54 feet tall — above the base flood elevation — with approximately 7,445 square feet of retail space on the ground level. The preliminary application submitted to county staff in May called for a structure that would stand 47 feet above base flood elevation and that would be about 4 feet from both the Old Stickney Point Road right of way and the right of way on Stickney Point Road.
The setbacks have not changed in the formal application.
Documents regarding recent structures erected on Siesta Key indicate that the base flood elevation is between 18 and 19 feet. Thus, the parking garage would be close to 73 feet in height.
The application points out that the CI/SKOD zoning allows for a structure to stand 35 feet tall, above base flood elevation, but the County Commission can grant a Special Exception for height up to 85 feet.
A traffic analysis included with the formal application for the garage, conducted by the Kimley-Horn consulting firm in Sarasota, says the total number of trips related to the retail space on the ground level of the garage is expected to be 48 during the afternoon peak drive time.
“For the purposes of this analysis,” the document continues, Kimley-Horn considered the garage would be completed in 2022.
“Access to the proposed parking garage consists of a right-in/right-out/left-out driveway connection along Old Stickney Point Road and a left-in/right-in/right-out driveway connection along Stickney Point Road,” the application narrative adds.
“The existing southern right-in/right-out driveway along [State Road] 72 is proposed to be removed and the existing egress only driveway along Old Stickney Point Road is proposed to be removed,” the application adds. “[Those actions] will improve access management and safety along both roadways.”
The garage has been designed to have about 203 parking spaces, the application notes. Twenty-eight of those would be set aside for the retail space; 72 for Kompothecras’ proposed hotel; and 103 for use of the general public.
The document points out that the garage would be located 440 feet from Beach Access 12, which is located near the intersection of Old Stickney Point Road and Midnight Pass Road, with crosswalks already present. It would be accessible from both Old Stickney Point Road and Stickney Point Road, the application adds.
Update on the hotel plans
As for the proposed seven-story hotel: As The Sarasota News Leader reported this summer, it would stand on about 1.17 acres stretching across the parcels located at 1260 and 1266 Old Stickney Point Road; the site is zoned Commercial General (CG) within the SKOD.
The land at 1260 Old Stickney Point Road previously was home to the Fandango Café, while the other parcel formerly was the location of a self-storage facility.
The hotel parcel, which is “in the southwest corner of Old Stickney Point Road and Peacock Road,” the application adds, also is used as a commercial parking lot.
The hotel would be 83 feet tall, the document notes. As with the CI zoning on Siesta Key, a Special Exception must be sought for a building to exceed the 35-foot height limit in CG zoning, the document adds.
The structure will incorporate “design features consistent with the Sarasota School of Architecture,” the application explains. The lower level will provide 60 parking spaces to complement those within the proposed parking garage, the document adds.
The primary access to the hotel site would be from Old Stickney Point Road, the document notes, with two other connections to Peacock Road.
The Kimley-Horn traffic analysis indicated the total number of trips associated with the hotel during afternoon peak drive time would be 64.
The setbacks issue
For the parking garage, the modification to the minimum street yard setbacks Kompothecras also is seeking on both Old Stickney Point Road and Stickney Point Road would be allowed within SKOD zoning as a result of an amendment he lobbied for and won about two-and-a-half years ago.
In April 2018, the County Commission split 3-2 in approving the amendment, which enables the board members to reduce the street yard setbacks on commercial property on Old Stickney Point Road. Commissioners Nancy Detert and Charles Hines opposed it. Commissioner Michael Moran made the motion to approve the request; Commissioner Alan Maio and then-Commissioner Paul Caragiulo joined Moran in voting for it.
Thirty-three people addressed the board members during the public hearing conducted on April 11, 2018, with the vast majority arguing against the proposed change.
The last of the speakers that day was Kompothecras, who stated, “I assure you [the hotel] will not be an 85-foot building 2 feet from the front,” in contrast to comments others had made that afternoon.
The change the commissioners agreed to allows the board to approve a setback of no less than 2 feet “if the building is demonstrated to be compatible with surrounding properties and designed for the pedestrian scale through its height and mass and the incorporation of create design elements …”
Previously, the SKOD called for any structure taller than 35 feet in the three commercial zoning districts on Siesta Key to be at least 25 feet from the street. The maximum front setback for an 85-foot-tall building would have had to be half the height of the structure, or 42.5 feet, for example.
The residential density issue
Of even greater concern to some Siesta Key residents than the added traffic associated with the projects is the proposal for a modification to SKOD residential density restrictions to make the hotel project possible. The application seeks to double the density allowance for a hotel room without a kitchen.
Kompothecras and his project team are seeking an amendment to county Future Land Use Policy 2.9.1. It would allow “lands located south of Stickney Point Road which are zoned CG [Commercial General] and CI [Commercial Intensive] (the ‘South Bridge Area’ under the Siesta Key Community Plan) … [to] be redeveloped to contain transient accommodations which exceed the density restrictions of the zoning regulations existing as of that date without violating this policy.”
Additionally, as Kompothecras’ agent for the application — Robert “Bo” Medred of Genesis Planning & Development in Bradenton — noted in the documents, Kompothecras wants to amend Section 124 of the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC) in regard to redevelopment of properties into transient accommodations in what the proposal again refers to as “the ‘South Bridge Area’ under the Siesta Key Community Plan.”
The modification would apply only to parcels zoned Commercial General (CG) in the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD).
The proposed text amendment would say that no hotel room within such transient accommodations could contain a kitchen, as defined by Section 124-305 of the UDC.
(The UDC combines all of the county’s land-development and zoning regulations.)
Moreover, the amendment would add that “in calculating the maximum number of hotel rooms allowed within an individual transient accommodation use” on property zoned CG/SKOD within that “South Bridge Area,” each hotel room without a kitchen would be counted as one-quarter dwelling unit, instead of half a dwelling unit.
Finally, the amendment would allow no transient accommodation to “contain more than 120 hotel rooms.”
The county’s CG district allows for up to 13 dwelling units per acre.
Both the Siesta Key Association (SKA) and the Siesta Key Condominium Council this week alerted their members to the Dec. 2 Zoom event and encouraged them to participate and express their opinions.
“Potential erosion of our Iconic Siesta Key lifestyle continues,” the Condominium Council leaders wrote in an email blast.
On its website, the SKA points out that the new hotel on Stickney Point Road would overwhelm Beach Access 12 “with hundreds of extra visitors.” Further, the nonprofit says, “Added transient accommodations will increase traffic, [pedestrians], and beach congestion — how much can one little island absorb?”