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Huber Yacht land going for condos

Huber Yacht Harbor, a Pinellas Point institution for nearly 30 years, is being sold to a developer who wants to build condominiums there, a city planner told neighbors last week.

Dave Goodwin on Tuesday told a Greater Pinellas Point meeting that Travis Enterprises plans to convert most of the space to condominiums and townhomes totaling about 72 units. Some units would jut out over the water, leaving room for boat slips underneath. The marina's 300 "hi & dry" boat storage slips would remain.

No representative of Henry and Mary Huber or the developer has appeared before Greater Pinellas Point, although the city encourages prospective builders to meet with neighborhood associations prior to any zoning request, city planner Rick MacAulay said.

Travis Enterprises in December requested a zoning change from Residential Planned Development (or, in one section, Commercial Parkway) to Residential Multifamily for the property at 5950 34th St. S.

The only land route into Huber Yacht Harbor, just west of Maximo Presbyterian Church, is from 58th Avenue S at 31st Street. The proposed zoning modifications run from west and south of the church to the Bent Pine Condominiums. The request, which covers 8.5 acres of the current marina property, comes before the Planning Commission Feb. 17.

Before then, planners expect to hear how the Hubers and Travis Enterprises propose to offset the loss of a number of oak trees within an oak hammock area marked for preservation. Such encroachments have been allowed, MacAulay said, if the applicant can counterbalance the loss with some environmental buildup of their own, either on the proposed site or elsewhere in the city. The Environmental Development Commission also must approve mitigation requests involving oak hammocks.

"We want to see their plan," MacAulay said. "They have not presented that yet."

Both Henry and Mary Huber deferred all questions to their attorney, David Bacon, who could not be reached Thursday or Friday.

The news that a sleepy marina that feeds into Frenchman's Creek could become condominiums has one neighbor wary. As a teenager in the 1960s, Bill Covert worked at what was then Ray Gassner's Whistler Marina. He directs waterfront programs at Eckerd College.

"I would be curious about what their density would be and the effect on Frenchman's Creek as a result," Covert said. On a more personal note, he added, "I would hate to see the marina go away."