Saturday, February 17, 2018
News Roundup

Madeira Beach set to speed up hotel's development

MADEIRA BEACH — City officials on Tuesday will consider two ordinances aimed at accelerating a plan for developers to build a 90-room Courtyard Marriott.

It would be the city's first major hotel since a Holiday Inn was demolished decades ago during a condominium building boom.

The City Commission plans to approve two ordinances that would set up the rules and procedures for creating special development agreements, which let the city require additional design features or amenities from developers in exchange for granting major variances to city codes.

"This will set up a quid pro quo relationship, giving the commission the ability to demand certain features in a development," City Manager Shane Crawford said.

The proposed Courtyard Marriott would be on waterfront property on the north side of American Legion Drive just east of the American Legion post and behind McDonald's and Publix, which both face the mainland side of the Tom Stuart Causeway.

Housh Ghovaee, chief executive officer of Northside Engineering and spokesman for the developers, said that once the comprehensive plan and development codes are approved, final plans will be submitted. Construction would begin immediately after the city approves the project.

It could take up to two months before the city can even begin reviewing the project, however.

Changing the comprehensive plan to allow development agreements requires approval by the state Department of Community Affairs, which would occur only after the commission passes the two ordinances on first reading, an action expected Tuesday.

Once the state approves the comprehensive plan changes, the commission will hold a public hearing required for final approval.

Crawford told the commission last week that he and his staff are still are still working with the developers on project revisions, so the delay would not be "fatal."

The changes to the city's codes are necessary, he stressed, to encourage tourism development.

The ordinances to be considered by the commission at 6 p.m. Tuesday were originally part of a four-ordinance set with the same goal to encourage tourism.

These ordinances are stripped-down versions, however, that deal only with development agreements.

The more controversial items — including density and intensity averaging, using a pool of lodging units available to developers and transferring some development rights — were taken out of the two ordinances now under consideration.

Two other ordinances that address those provisions were referred back to the planning commission for further review.

Those provisions were not required for the Marriott project to move forward.

Ghovaee said the Marriott project, as now designed, calls for four stories above base flood level (current codes allow only three stories) and an overall height that would exceed code limits by about 3 feet.

The hotel would have 90 rooms, a restaurant primarily for guest use, a small meeting room, an outside swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and outdoor seating at an outside bar.

"As soon as the permit is approved, there will be a shovel in the ground," Ghovaee said. "The tourism industry in Pinellas County is $5.5 billion and we want our share of that to come to Madeira Beach, where people can stay and spend money in the city's restaurants and stores."

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