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Treasure Island seeks to ease development rules

TREASURE ISLAND — Amid growing developer interest in the city, voters will be asked to modernize the city's development regulations next March.

"We are getting a lot of interest. Building permits are up. Things are starting to get busy again," City Manager Reid Silverboard told the City Commission earlier this month.

He cited particular interest by real estate agents and developers in two vacant properties — the site of the former Buccaneer Motel on Gulf Boulevard and the site of an earlier proposed and then withdrawn plan for a La Quinta Inn at 108th Avenue and the Treasure Island Causeway.

There also are preliminary discussions under way regarding a possible parking garage in the city's downtown core.

Homeowners Choice Inc., the owner of the 8-plus acre former Rice property at John's Pass, also recently enlarged the site when it bought an adjacent property at auction, the site of a former liquor store at the entrance to John's Pass.

In a recent email to Mayor Bob Minning, HCI spokesperson Jay Madhu said the company is considering developing the site as a destination hotel.

"We have been approached by various people to sell them the property or partner with them to do some different things," Madhu said.

"Our plan, is to hopefully make the property a destination hotel,'' he said. "However to do so we would among many things need height and density to be increased to get economies of scale."

Silverboard indicated the city might need to create a planned development zoning code to facilitate the development of the John's Pass property.

That change has yet to be discussed by the commission, but it did take several actions earlier this month to facilitate development in other areas of the city.

The commission voted to ask voters to allow a 2-foot increase in building height citywide to ensure homes and other structures are not penalized by last year's 2-foot increase in the effective flood elevation.

If approved, it would mean that the actual measured height of structures would remain the same as before new flood measurement. If defeated, the measured height of future buildings would have to be shorter.

In December, the commission is scheduled to take final votes on a series of referendum questions relating to the city's downtown redevelopment district. The commission adopted a downtown special area plan in April as part of its overall land use plan.

The five referendum questions would ask voters to put in place regulations implementing the plan, creating greater density for mixed use and tourist development.

If voters approve the regulations, the city would then have to create specific zoning districts in which those regulations would apply.