MADEIRA BEACH — New rules for redevelopment in the city are in effect and one of the first projects seeking to qualify for a special development agreement is a proposed beachfront bar and grill.
The problem is that the lot — next to the city's Kitty Stuart Park — is very small.
The current site plan calls for two levels of parking, but even then the project is 12 parking spaces short of meeting the 46 parking spaces required by city codes.
The developers first hoped they could use part of the city parking lot that serves the park, but the deed granting the property to the city restricts the land to use as a public park.
"We don't want to lose the park back to the grantor," City Attorney Tom Trask told the commission this month, while stressing that the project is offering "significant value" to the city.
Jack Bodziak, architect and spokesman for the developers, is working with the city to find other options to meet the parking requirement.
The developers are now proposing to put off-site parking spaces on two lots on the east side of Gulf Boulevard.
One of the lots has six aging tourist units on the property.
Bodziak said the developers want to replace those six transient units, elevating them to allow parking underneath for both guests and restaurant patrons.
The units would be small, about 450 square feet, and be geared primarily to overnight guests, he said.
But even if the off-site parking is part of the development agreement, the city would still need to approve a variance for the restaurant site itself, at 14100 Gulf Blvd.
To sweeten the pot, Bodziak is proposing the developers grant the city a 5-foot perpetual easement on their property, to improve parking and landscaping within Kitty Stuart Park, as well as provide two bathrooms for park visitors.
"We are giving the easement in order to get a variance to our parking," Bodziak told the commission.
The commission, which voted unanimously to allow the project to apply for a development agreement, appeared willing to grant that variance.
"I commend you. It is a small site and you have been very creative," said Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde.
"We are going in the right direction," said Commissioner Terry Lister.
Once an application is received by the city, it must be reviewed first by the planning commission and then by the City Commission. That process would take about a month.
The restaurant is expected to seat at least 150 people, with both inside and outside beachfront dining.
"We would like to be open for the peak tourist season," Bodziak said.
"The project is a priority of staff and will be expedited as much as possible," City Manager Shane Crawford said.
Another project, a proposed Marriott hotel on American Legion Drive, is also close to applying for a development agreement with the city.