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Opinion
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Guest Column
Why our Anclote Harbor multifamily project makes sense for Tarpon Springs | Column
We ask that the commissioners and the community consider the facts and the project’s positive impacts for Tarpon Springs.
The site of the proposed Anclote Harbor apartment complex on a site along the Anclote River.
The site of the proposed Anclote Harbor apartment complex on a site along the Anclote River. [ City of Tarpon Springs ]
Published Oct. 5, 2021|Updated Oct. 6, 2021

As local governments consider approval of real estate developments around the Tampa Bay area, decisions should be made based on facts and data, not hearsay and hyperbole.

Kamil Salame
Kamil Salame [ Provided ]

Unfortunately, as our Anclote Harbor multifamily project goes through the approval process in Tarpon Springs, this hasn’t been the case. Our development company, a family-owned firm in business for 60-plus years, has seen a small, vocal group of opponents voice concerns that don’t show an understanding of our plan, ignoring that our project represents one of the best uses possible for development on the site.

We’ve heard everything from how our project will lead to scores of fatalities on U.S. 19 to how it will have an adverse effect on global warming, will lead to massive flooding, and will destroy the environment of the surrounding area. None of these statements is accurate.

The site has commercial zoning, giving the owner the right to build various uses including retail and office. In fact, a 400,000-square-foot office development and a 200,000-square-foot Super Wal-Mart were previously approved on the site. Morgan Group’s proposal for a multifamily use represents what’s called “down zoning,” with lower density than is allowed under current commercial zoning.

In addition to discussion about how the project would impact the site, much of the conversation about our application has focused on traffic concerns. First, we want the community to know that we would never put citizens’ lives in jeopardy.

Traffic studies show that our proposed multifamily development would create less than one-fifth the traffic of other types of commercial uses, like a retail center, would generate. The Anclote Harbor multifamily community would generate a number of daily trips roughly equivalent to that generated by one fast-food restaurant.

Also, the plan’s proposed traffic adjustments, which include a U-turn and deceleration lanes for entry into the site off U.S. 19, have been endorsed by the Florida Department of Transportation. All along U.S. 19, numerous developments have been built with similar access.

In addition to addressing worries about traffic, we have carefully responded to neighbors’ concerns about the potential environmental impact on the site, and have incorporated feedback into our project. Our plan would preserve and enhance 21 of the site’s 22 acres of wetlands, would plant over 6,000 trees, would preserve and protect the existing eagle nests, and would confine buildings and parking areas to only 12 of the site’s total 64 acres.

It’s important to note that the project is estimated to create more than $1.4 million in ad valorem taxes a year, $2.9 million in impact fees, and $8 million a year in new local spending for the city. We strongly believe this is the best use of the site for the community.

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It’s disappointing that the project’s opponents don’t want to work towards any sort of compromise or consider factual information as they form their opinions. Still, we have worked hard to incorporate community opinions into our plan, which would provide something much of north Pinellas County lacks — newer, luxury rental housing.

As the project moves to the Tarpon Springs City Commission, we ask that this application be considered with the understanding that many similar projects have been built along U.S. 19 without negative consequences and are assets to their respective communities. And we ask that the commissioners and the community consider the facts and the project’s positive impacts for Tarpon Springs, which would be significant.

Kamil Salame is a development partner with the Morgan Group, which is proposing the Anclote Harbor multifamily project in Tarpon Springs.

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