ST. PETE BEACH — The TradeWinds Resort is proposing to add a 116-foot tall, 12-story hotel and parking garage, which would be the city's first major redevelopment project in more than a decade.
"We are really excited. The last major project in the city was in 1999 when the Sirata added its tower," said TradeWinds CEO Tim Bogott.
Bogott said he hopes construction can start before the end of the year and the hotel open for business by mid 2018.
The proposed "Sugar Sands at TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach" will be built on the site of the former 200-room Coral Reef Hotel, a complex condemned by the city, demolished and purchased by the TradeWinds Resort in 2014.
The nearly 3 acres at the site brings the TradeWind's land package to about 30 acres of beachfront property.
The Sugar Sands, at 5750 Gulf Blvd., would add a fourth complex to the existing TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, Guy Harvey Outpost and the Breckenridge at TradeWinds Resort — bringing the company's total available timeshare and hotel rooms to about 800.
The estimated $55 million Sugar Sands project will include 217 tourist rooms, an 810-space multi-story parking garage, a timeshare sales center, a spa and fitness center, a marketing office, a bar and a reception area. The structure features a lower facade along the roadway, building to a 12-story tower at the rear.
The property sits in the midst of the city's Large Resort and Gulf Boulevard Community Redevelopment zoning districts and is subject to the conditions of a settlement agreement the city signed last year with resident Jim Anderson, who had sued to block development he claimed would be beyond the capabilities of the city's sewer system and other infrastructure.
Anderson could not be reached Friday for comment, but the agreement addressed the height of new hotels; the number of hotel rooms allowed per acre, how required infrastructure improvements would be paid for and the rights of residents living adjacent to hotel properties.
The agreement also placed an 80-foot cap on building heights until the city completed a series of infrastructure studies. The final study on the city's sewer system is scheduled to be completed by the fall.
City regulations also require large hotel projects to seek a conditional use permit before beginning construction. That will be considered by the Planning Board at its 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
Among the conditions city staffers say must be met: a public access easement to the beach, a 10-foot wide sidewalk, construction of a beach dune and a plan for achieving adequate sewer system capacity.
Bogott said his company is considering "leading a project" to loan the city up to $4 million to pay for improving sewer lines serving the hotel district.
"If new redevelopment is not allowed to occur, then as older properties reach the end of their economic life, they will be forced to convert to residential condominiums,'' Bogott said. "That will result in a loss of tourism and transient lodging units, significantly eroding the county's tax base."
City Manager Wayne Saunders confirmed that the city is talking about several options in which developers can partner with the city to speed up things like sewer improvements.