Tuesday, May 22, 2018
News Roundup

Concerns still surround revised Safety Harbor development proposal

SAFETY HARBOR — If it's not too tall, it's too ugly. It's too many people. It's too much traffic. It's too much spreading of commercial development.

Seeking to buy a 35-acre parcel to build apartments and office space, a development company reworked its proposal after initial backlash to the large scale of the project. But at a Monday night workshop, city commissioners picked apart the new alternatives.

The proposal has so far failed to garner wholesale support, as each commissioner has named different sticking points that make them uncomfortable with it.

Still, after an hour and a half of criticism, development associate Damon Kolb from the Richman Group of Florida said the workshop provided helpful feedback.

"We didn't hear 'no,' " he said.

The property where the complex would be developed has been dormant, the former home of the Firmenich Citrus Center at McMullen-Booth Road and State Road 590.

Developers have battled through several tough meetings since October. After commissioners denounced the four-story apartment complex as too tall, developers created new site plans to show what they were envisioning.

"We will work with you," Kolb repeated throughout the Monday presentation.

"We're not hiding behind land-use attorneys," he said. "We're not meeting with you privately, trying to do something behind the scenes."

The alternative ideas featured a slight decrease in the number of proposed luxury apartment units, down to 276 from the initial 296. The plans increased tree buffers and clustered taller buildings toward the center of the parcel, to lessen the effect on surrounding neighborhoods. One option could bring building heights down from four stories to three.

Commissioners Nancy Besore and Cliff Merz were still bothered by the size of the apartment complex.

"Obviously, we would like to get, quite frankly, as many units as we can," Kolb said, with a bit of an uncomfortable chuckle, "but still respecting the adjacent residences."

Because this project requires a change in the zoning of the property from its current industrial status to multifamily residential and commercial, the commission can dictate some terms of the development agreement.

Some people have scoffed at the suggestion that an active industrial use there would be less compatible for the neighborhood than the proposed apartment complex.

Kolb's presentation still noted that the industrial buildings on the site are taller than his company's proposed development and that an industrial site could yield potentially higher traffic levels.

"Regardless of what happens with us, you guys have 16 acres of industrial there," Kolb said.

Later, Besore said, "I'm not afraid of the big bad industrial wolf."

Commissioners began questioning the commercial section of the development and seemed interested in limiting the types of businesses that could move in. Returning to his first trepidations about the project, Mayor Andy Steingold opposed the idea of letting commercial areas creep farther north on McMullen-Booth Road.

He also worried over potential backups at the entry and exit driveways of the complex. Most commissioners shared the fear of adding traffic to an already heavily traveled intersection. Other concerns included the possible intrusion on neighbors, minimizing the look of the buildings and preserving privacy.

Residents did not have an opportunity to comment during the workshop. If developers decide to proceed, the proposal could go to a Dec. 17 public hearing. The city has asked developers to authorize a traffic study before the meeting.

"There is a lot of angst," Besore told developers. "This is a huge change for us. It's a revolutionary change."

She compared the process to buying a car, saying she felt she was offered the worst deal first. Now, she wondered how far she could negotiate it down.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected]

Comments
Stanley Cup final schedule: Tampa Bay-Washington winner vs. Vegas

Stanley Cup final schedule: Tampa Bay-Washington winner vs. Vegas

Here's the schedule for the Stanley Cup final, which starts Monday — in Tampa Bay if the Lightning wins Wednesday and in Vegas if it doesn't:Lightning-Capitals winner vs. Golden Knights(All games on NBC at 8 p.m. ET)Monday, May 28Wednesday, May...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Report: Downtown Tampa has least amount of vacant land of top 25 metros

Report: Downtown Tampa has least amount of vacant land of top 25 metros

Tampa is facing major landscape changes as projects like Water Street Tampa gear up. But despite the ongoing and upcoming major development, a new CommercialCafé study says, downtown Tampa has a big challenge with the least amount of vacant land of a...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Forecast: Potential tropical system threatens to drench already soggy Tampa Bay area

Forecast: Potential tropical system threatens to drench already soggy Tampa Bay area

Flood warnings have been extended for the Alafia River in Lithia and the Little Manatee River at Wimauma as the National Weather Service continues to monitor a broad area of low pressure that has a building chance of developing into a tropical system...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Saturday was Jacob Kosinski’s big day. His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude....
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida reached a 47-year low in 2017, according to state figures released Tuesday and touted as a "major announcement" by a Republican governor determined to win a U.S. Senate seat. The state’s total crime rate dropped by 6 percent from 201...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Top 5 at noon: Which Florida companies have biggest gaps between CEO and worker pay? What Florida Democrats can learn from tonight’s Georgia governor primary; and more

Top 5 at noon: Which Florida companies have biggest gaps between CEO and worker pay? What Florida Democrats can learn from tonight’s Georgia governor primary; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:WHICH FLORIDA COMPANIES HAVE BIGGEST GAPS BETWEEN CEO AND WORKER PAY?Publicly traded companies are now required to disclose the ratio between what they pay their CEO and their median worker. ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Void the warrant and destroy the records. So says lawyer of Hernando County commissioner up on prostitution-related charges

Void the warrant and destroy the records. So says lawyer of Hernando County commissioner up on prostitution-related charges

BROOKSVILLE — Citing jurisdictional and procedural mistakes, the attorney for suspended Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson is seeking to void the warrant for his arrest on prostitution-related charges and to erase all records of his arrest.I...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The State You’re In: Laurel? Or Hardy? (Hint: The 2nd one was a Florida man)

The State You’re In: Laurel? Or Hardy? (Hint: The 2nd one was a Florida man)

You may have heard about the Internet imbroglio last week over a recording that some people thought sounded one way and others thought sounded another, aka the "Laurel ? Or Yanny?" contest. The first time I saw that formulation pop up on social media...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

TAMPA — Tampa-based private equity firm ProspEquity Partners paid $18.2 million less than three weeks ago for a two-thirds stake in Tierra Nueva, a Miami company with a new idea for coffee, and already it has some big news.Tierra Nueva has inked a de...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Gators, USF announce 3-game football series

Gators, USF announce 3-game football series

In what constitutes a re-affirmation of USF coach Charlie Strong's desire to take on all-comers, the Bulls and the University of Florida have announced a three-game football series beginning in 2022.The Bulls and Gators, who have played only once pre...
Updated: 1 hour ago