Article published on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 – Tampa Bay Newspapers

MADEIRA BEACH – Two major developments planned for the city’s east gateway corridor are being downsized.

121616_bhb-01They are the Madeira Beach Town Center, which will redevelop the area along 150th Avenue and part of Madeira Way to Gulf Boulevard, and the Holiday Isle Marina, to be built on vacant land further east on 150th Avenue facing the Intracoastal Waterway.

Both have multi-story hotels and condominium buildings, plus other amenities. The developers of each have submitted site plans to the city that reduce the height of the buildings. The city Planning and Zoning Board approved a rezoning application for the Madeira Beach Town Center that contains the building size reductions at a Dec. 12 meeting. Details were given in documents submitted with the application. The Planning and Zoning Board will look at the plans for the Holiday Isle Marina development at their meeting Jan. 10. Though details of the revised site plan for that project are not yet available, Madeira Planning/Zoning Director Michelle Orton said that the revised plans include size reductions of the hotels and condo buildings proposed.

The site plan application submitted for the revised Madeira Beach Town Center development says the height of all residential and hotel buildings has been reduced, with height reductions ranging from 12.5 percent to 21 percent. The height of the two hotels will be lowered from 11 stories to eight stories each. The number of hotel rooms has been decreased from the original total of 430 rooms to 316, a reduction of 114 rooms.

The reduced height of the two hotels, along with repositioning of one of the hotels further from the road, contributes more open space to Madeira Way. Some residents had been concerned about a canyon effect on that roadway. While the overall number of condo units will remain the same, 90, the two condo buildings will be reduced from eight stories each to six. Ten of the condo units will be moved to the top of one of the hotels, Orton said.  A low-rise marina building will increase from 5,000 to 8,000 square feet to accommodate more retail space.

There is no change in the public spaces or public amenities the developer is providing, which includes a walkway and biking trail along 150th Avenue and a large landscaped plaza at Gulf Boulevard. At the Dec. 12 Planning and Zoning Board meeting, Kate Wells, an attorney for developer William Karns, said the size reductions were made in response to the residents’ concerns. “My client, in response to concerns expressed by members of the community, made a business decision to redesign this project,” said Wells.

Lawsuit challenging the developments denied
In a related action, a lawsuit filed by residents who claimed the city acted improperly in passing the Planned Development ordinances ended with a ruling in favor of the city. In a decision dated Dec. 12, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Minkoff said, “none of the ordinances challenged by the plaintiffs herein changed the actual list of permitted, conditional, or prohibited uses within any zoning category.” It concluded that the city’s motion is granted and the plaintiff’s motion is denied. City Manager Shane Crawford said that this means the developers can now build what they originally intended if they desire to do so.

Developer will move forward with downsized plan
In an interview Dec. 14, after the lawsuit decision was announced, Karns said he is going forward with his plan to revise the Madeira Beach Town Center development. “I have been working with the residents, listening to their concerns about density and intensity, in an effort to build a compromise,” he said. Karns said he plans to have his offices in the development, “so their concerns about traffic and such are my concerns.” “We’ve come up with a compromise I hope can help pull the city together. It’s time to move forward. I’m ready to start building,” he said. As to the lawsuit affecting his intentions, Karns said, “We want to continue with the (new) plan we have before the city right now.”  With the Planning and Zoning Board’s approval on Dec. 12, Karns said the next step is to “go to the Board of Commissioners on Jan. 10 for their approval.”