June 14 Neighborhood Workshop planned on revised design for hotel on former Wells Fargo bank site on Siesta Key

Event to begin at 6 p.m. at St. Boniface

This is the concept plan for the first level of the hotel. The grand tree is indicated at the right. Image courtesy Sarasota County

From 6 to 7 p.m. on June 14, Dave Balot, the owner of property located at 5810 Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key, plans a second Neighborhood Workshop on plans for a hotel on that site, which formerly was home to a Wells Fargo bank.

Because Sarasota County staff last year discovered a grand tree on the land, Balot was forced to have the hotel redesigned to ensure the tree would remain in place, as necessitated by county regulations. The workshop’s focus will be that modified design.

Balot is proposing an increase in the number of rooms from approximately 100 to 112. Moreover, he will need County Commission approval for a Special Exception to allow him to increase the structure’s height from 35 feet to 60 feet, the workshop application points out. The hotel would stand over two levels of parking, the application notes.

The maximum height for development on the project site without that Special Exception is 35 feet, because of the zoning.

The workshop application stresses that the June 14 event will not be a public hearing. The goal is “to inform neighboring residents of the nature of the proposal, discuss the concept plan, and to seek their comments,” the document adds.

According to county protocols, anyone living within 750 feet of the site should receive a notice about the workshop.

The event, which has been scheduled to last an hour, as stated in the public notice, will be held at St. Boniface Episcopal Church, which stands at 5615 Midnight Pass Road.

This county document explains how to determine whether a tree meets the ‘grand tree’ criteria. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Weiqi Lin, principal of Port and Coastal Consultants in Sarasota, who is working with Balot, noted in an April 26 email to the county’s Planning staff that a workshop was conducted on June 9, 2021, focused on the original plans.

Lin also pointed out that the number of proposed hotel rooms would be allowed, thanks to the County Commission’s 3-2 vote in October 2021 to approve an amendment to the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC), which contains all of the land-use and zoning regulations. That amendment, No. 32, eliminated the counting of rooms in hotels, motels and other tourist accommodations for residential density purposes.

Previously, property zoned Commercial General — the designation of Balot’s site — could have no more than 26 hotel or motel rooms per acre, if most of them had no kitchens.

(Balot’s plans and those for the redevelopment of the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites, which is located on Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village, have been on hold with county staff as two lawsuits over the two hotels that the commission has approved on the Key make their way through the 12th Judicial Circuit Court system. Both have hearing dates set for 2023.)

Balot’s development site encompasses more than 2 acres, Lin wrote, and it is the only parcel zoned Commercial General, in the Siesta Key Overlay Zoning District (SKOD), that is surrounded on all sides by residential multi-family housing property.

A graphic shows the Residential Multi-Family zoning districts around the proposed hotel site, which is in red. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The property also “is approximately 1,200 [feet] to the Siesta Key Public Beach, which equates to a 5-minute [walking] distance,” Lin continued. It is about 1.02 miles from the South Bridge Area of the Key, which is south of the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Midnight Pass Road, he wrote.

The hotel parking levels will include 51 extra spaces for “beach parking/overflow parking,” the application says.

A swimming pool and one or more hot tubs “will be built on the third floor above [the] parking area,” Lin also pointed out.

“The uniqueness of its size makes it an ideal parcel for a new hotel on Siesta Key and its location is perfect for a hotel/restaurant/bar to serve the many visitors and residents [who come to the barrier island] every year.” Lin continued.

The restaurant/bar would comprise approximately 7,000 square feet, he added.

This is the concept plan for the third floor of the hotel. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“The owner is interested in working with the Siesta Key Association, the neighborhood condo association, local Chamber of Commerce, neighboring communities, and all residents who live on the Key to develop this property,” Lin pointed out.