MADEIRA BEACH — Less than three months into his new job, City Manager Shane Crawford is intent on making it clear the city is open for redevelopment.
He outlined various steps to achieve that goal at a recent City Commission workshop and stressed that the pending changes relating to development are policy decisions only the commission can approve.
As one of the first steps, Crawford is asking the commission to consider canceling the city's building services contract with Treasure Island, which now handles all permits and inspections for Madeira Beach — and collects all the fees.
"If we are going to be prodevelopment, I suggest we bring the permitting function back home," he told the commission. "Treasure Island has been doing a fine job, but we need to be in charge of our own destiny."
Crawford said at least four development projects totaling at least $4 million are about to be submitted for permitting, and will generate upward of $300,000 in permit fees.
On Tuesday, he said another option would involve Treasure Island renegotiating the contract to share permitting-related revenue with Madeira Beach.
Crawford is in the process of hiring a new city planner who could head a re-established community development department that could handle planning, permitting, building inspection and code enforcement.
The city used to have such a position, but after former Community Development Director Paula Cohen resigned in 2010 to take a job in Treasure Island, the post has remained vacant.
Crawford also wants the commission to consider passing four development-related ordinances the Planning Commission approved about a year ago.
One would create a new land use category, resort facility high, to attract hotels back into the city by allowing the commission to consider approving more rooms per acre than currently allowed.
Other changes relate to implementing planned developments and combining development density of contiguous properties.
The city's last major hotel, the 149-room Holiday Inn on Gulf Boulevard, shut its doors in 2004.
Although the city still has a number of mom-and-pop hotels, they are disappearing, too.
Over the past decade, the city has lost more than 200 tourist rooms. All were replaced by condominiums.
In 2005, the city hoped redevelopment of a 2.2-acre site on the mainland side of the Madeira Beach bridge would include a flagship hotel, but those plans never materialized and condominiums were built instead.
Now, a developer wants to build a Courtyard Marriott on American Legion Drive in nearly the same spot on the northeast mainland side of the Tom Stuart Causeway. The planned Marriott project requires some of the density provisions included in the pending four ordinances, according to Crawford.
In addition, a new Walgreens, a Wells Fargo bank and a new Gulf-front condominium are about to request building permits, he said.
Other developers have approached the city to explore how their projects would be viewed by officials and residents.
"This is still all pie in the sky, but developers are talking to us. Things are picking up and the pendulum is swinging the other way. The next few years are going to be exciting," Crawford said.
Further discussions about redevelopment policy are planned at another commission workshop on April 24.