Session to be conducted via Zoom
At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9, the project team proposing a 100-room boutique hotel that would stand at 5810 Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key will conduct its Sarasota County-mandated Neighborhood Workshop.
As noted on a county webpage, the event is scheduled to last just until 7 p.m. that evening. Yet, the formal application says the workshop will continue until 8 p.m.
Each of the project teams working on the three other hotels proposed for the Key have ended up allowing Neighborhood Workshop participants to continue offering comments and questions until 8 p.m.
The link for the June 9 event, which will be conducted via Zoom, is available through the webpages for the county’s Planning and Development Services Department.
On May 14, county staff received the formal application for the fourth hotel proposal on the island.
Weiqi Lin of Port and Coastal Consultants in Sarasota is the agent for the owner of the property, ABC SUB2 LLC, whose principal is Dave Balot.
The address of the company is 2017 Fiesta Drive, Suite 201, in Sarasota. Fiesta Drive is just north of Proctor Road and east of South Tamiami Trail.
Lin also represents Balot and Balot’s partners in the planning for the proposed redevelopment of Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites from 55 rooms to as many as 170 in Siesta Village.
Lin was employed with Sarasota County Government as a technical specialist in the Planning and Development Services Department from Oct. 6, 2003 to Jan. 16, 2019, county Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant told The Sarasota News Leader, which had inquired about his experience with the county before he launched his own firm.
In the formal application for the fourth hotel, Lin notes that the structure would stand on the former site of a Wells Fargo bank on Siesta Key, which encompasses 2.15 acres. The property is zoned Commercial General (CG) in the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD).
The anticipated start of construction is listed as 2022, with completion “18-24 [months] after start date.”
As the News Leader previously has reported, the project team is seeking a Special Exception to place “transient accommodations” on the site. That term is what county Planning staff uses to refer to hotels and motels.
Further, the team is seeking a county Comprehensive Plan amendment and an amendment to the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC), which includes all the zoning and land-use regulations.
The goal is to be able to construct the 100-room hotel over two levels of parking. The hotel itself would be 35 feet high, which is the maximum height allowed in CG zones in the county. However, county regulations do not allow commercial structures to stand over parking garages in the SKOD.
The application’s narrative points out that that plan “is consistent with the height allowed in surrounding [Residential Multi-Family] RMF-zoned parcels” on the island. The property is the only one zoned CG/SKOD on the island that is surrounded by RMF parcels, the application adds.
Further, the parcel has total impervious lot coverage of 65.42%, the application says. The proposal calls for that to increase to 80%. Stormwater would be diverted to an underground vault, the application adds.
The parking structure would include 71 extra spaces for visitors headed to Siesta Public Beach, the application notes, along with seven handicapped spots to meet county requirements.
In the application, Lin also points out that architect Mark Sultana of Sarasota and Joel Freedman of Shumaker Advisors of Florida LLC are among members of the project team.
The traffic consultant listed on the application is Francisco B. Domingo, who heads up the Smart Mobility division of the Stantec consulting firm in Sarasota.
Along with approximately 100 rooms without full kitchens, the application says, the hotel would have a new restaurant and bar encompassing about 7,000 square feet. Those facilities would be open to the public as well as guests, the application points out.
Additionally, a swimming pool that would be approximately 32 feet by 115 feet, and a hot tub, would be built on the third floor, above the parking area, the application says.
The property is about 1,200 feet south of Siesta Public Beach and immediately south of the Gulf & Bay condominium complex, the application notes.
Emphasis on the community connection
Reprising some of the information in the preliminary documents filed with county staff earlier this year, the formal application explains that Balot of ABC SUB2 “is a member of the Siesta Key community …” He owns real estate “and has business interests on Siesta Key,” it adds.
While the county’s Comprehensive Plan “limits density and intensity increases on Siesta Key,” the application points out, “it does not account for the proliferation of high-occupancy vacation rental units. It is the applicant’s opinion that a hotel of approximately 100 rooms, built on over 2 acres of land, with lower density and without a height increase above 35 ft., over only two levels of parking, provides for a less intense alternative … and also allows for the development of a much-needed new hotel to provide for an option for accommodations on Siesta Key. The owner is interested in working with the Siesta Key Association, the [Siesta Key Condominium Council], local Chamber of Commerce, neighboring communities, and all residents who live on the Key to develop this property,” the application notes.
Further, the application says that the design of the hotel will comply with all the current island street setbacks, as well as the Florida Building Code, and Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) and Americans with Disabilities (ADA) regulations.
The proposed amendments
The formal hotel application explains — as the preliminary submittal to county staff did — that the project team would like to amend the county’s Future Land Use Policy 2.9.1, which pertains to intensity and density of development on the barrier islands in the unincorporated portions of the county.
The proposal calls for allowing lands zoned CG/SKOD as of March 13, 1989 “and consistently so thereafter, with parcel size of one acre or larger,” to be “redeveloped to a new resort hotel/motel with a maximum density of 52 transient units per acre without violating this policy.”
The CG zoning allows 13 residential units per acre. A hotel room without a kitchen counts as one-half dwelling; thus, a hotel/motel on a CG/SKOD parcel could have up to 26 rooms per acre.
The companion Unified Development Code amendment calls for an increase in the maximum density for transient accommodations from 13 units per acre to 26, if more than 25% of the units have kitchens. The density would go up to 52 per acre if no more than 25% of the units had a kitchen.
Additionally, that amendment calls for allowing hotels on a CG/SKOD parcel to have a maximum height of 35 feet over two stories of parking.