Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Beach hoteliers say guests want newer, bigger, taller

CLEARWATER — Call it the beach version of keeping up with the Joneses.

The Sea Captain Resort, a Clearwater Beach motel that dates to the 1950s, is two stories tall. Its next-door neighbor used to be the four-story Port Vue Motel, but that has been razed to make way for a 10-story Holiday Inn Express.

The Sea Captain's owner fears that his new neighbor will dwarf his motel and hide it from tourists on Coronado Drive. "We'll be looking up at a wall," Don Eifert said.

To survive, Eifert has hatched plans to build upward, too. The blue-colored Sea Captain at 40 Devon Drive may face the wrecking ball to clear the way for a nine-story replacement.

Tonight, the Clearwater City Council will decide whether to award the proposed hotel 53 rooms beyond what would normally be allowed there. The city allows beach hotel developers to draw units from a pool of 1,385 extra rooms, building more rooms than they otherwise could per acre.

The so-called "density pool" was created in 2008 as an incentive to build mid-sized, mid-priced hotels on the beach, many of which Clearwater has lost to condominium construction.

Eifert has mixed feelings about saying goodbye to the Sea Captain, which is near where a pirate cruise ship docks at Clearwater Municipal Marina.

"Just like everything else, it served its purpose. But times change," he said. "It was originally built as a mom-and-pop hotel, and those are gone. What people were happy with 60 years ago, they don't want anymore. They gravitate to the newer hotels."

If the council gives its approval, the 27-room Sea Captain will be replaced by an 85-room limited-service hotel with no restaurant or meeting space. It would have a 93-space parking garage. Eifert would have four years to begin construction.

"I guess it comes down to supply and demand," Eifert said. "It's hard to make a 27-room hotel financially feasible in the modern economic climate."

To get extra hotel rooms, developers must meet parking and design guidelines specified by the city's "Beach by Design" plan.

The 10-story Holiday Inn Express that is to be built next to the Sea Captain will have 108 rooms — 72 of them awarded from the density pool — even though Paul Gibson and other council members complained that its design looked boxy and that the building would occupy most of its lot, with few setbacks.

City Council members had a number of questions about the Sea Captain development project at their work session Tuesday.

George Cretekos, who's concerned about noise levels on the beach, wondered if the new hotel would have any plans for live music.

Planning director Michael Delk said the hotel would have a pool but not a bar or lounge. He said it would be "challenging if not impossible" for the hotel to add anything else to its small site.

The city sees higher density levels on the beach as a way to build back some of the inventory the hotel industry lost during the condo boom. Officials capped the pool of extra rooms at 1,385 units because the new traffic would be all the beach could handle.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4160.

Beach hoteliers say guests want newer, bigger, taller 01/12/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]