MADEIRA BEACH — In about two months, the foundation of a $10-million hotel will mark what owners and officials hope will be a new chapter for the city's tourism business.
The proposed Courtyard Marriott Hotel of Madeira Beach, the city's first new hotel in decades, became a fact last week when the City Commission gave its final approval to rezone the 1.5-acre site on American Legion Drive and to a special development agreement.
The agreement allowed the city to approve a site plan that did not conform exactly to city building and zoning codes. The deal gave the hotel project a slight increase in density, sharply reduced setback requirements and an increase in building height.
The plan was approved both by the city's planning commission and a unanimous City Commission.
The 90-unit hotel, slightly smaller than the 120 units found at most Courtyard Marriott hotels, will include a resort-style swimming pool, a restaurant and bar primarily for guests, and four large boat slips that will allow area boaters and water taxis to dock at the hotel.
A 2,000-square-foot meeting room can be used for conferences and seminars, both by hotel guests and community groups.
"The hotel will bring a tremendous amount of tourism to the city," said Bob Lyons, a member of the ownership group, Santa Madeira Investment Partners.
The firm purchased the property in 2005 for $5.3-million and originally proposed a four-story, 100-unit Mediterranean-style condo-hotel on the site of the former Santa Madeira Restaurant, just west of Duhme Road and north of the Publix at the east end of the Madeira Beach Causeway.
Lyons' group and a Pennsylvania-based company, the Shaner Group, are now joint owners of the redesigned project.
Shaner, which already manages about 100 Marriott Hotels throughout the country, will manage the hotel in Madeira Beach, according to Lyons.
Planning has been under way for more than a year, as the owners and city officials worked on changing city codes to accommodate the project.
Lyons praised the City Commission, City Manager Shane Crawford and Mayor Travis Palladeno for supporting the project from the beginning.
The city's last major hotel, a Holiday Inn, was demolished decades ago during a condominium building boom.
Now that the legal hurdles for this new hotel have been cleared, architects are drawing up final plans. Once construction begins, the hotel is expected to open about 10 months later, in time for the 2013-14 tourist season.
"We are really excited. We believe the hotel will be very important for the city's economy and its tourism," said Housh Ghovaee, CEO of Northside Engineering and shepherd of the project over the past year.