CLEARWATER - The Hyatt Beachwalk Resort, formerly known as the Mariott Seashell Resort, cleared two hurdles enroute to receiving City approval to begin construction on the planned 250-room facility.
The Community Development Board was to hear two cases relating to the resort during its November 16 meeting, the first seeking approval of the site plan and the second providing a recommendation of approval of the Development Agreement to the City Council. But despite several recent changes to the project plan, no member of the CDB or the public asked to remove the hearings from the consent agenda; the items were approved without any public discussion.
Among the changes to the already-approved development agreement were provisions that
Several of those provisions are somewhat controversial, and are expected to receive discussion during the December 2 City Council meeting. The Council's approval of the Development Agreement is the final City OK needed before construction can begin.
The first is the granting of 24 additional units from the density pool, compensating for the developers decision to convert 24 existing hotel units into 18 condos. Assuming a selling price in the mid-$500 thousand range for each of the 18 condo's, the additional 24 units from the density pool amount to some as a $10 million gift to the developer, Beachwalk Resort, LLC.
The second area of controversy involves the granting of a 50-year "license to use and operate the Beach Service Facility", which is essentially a City-owned retail storefront on the beach side of the resort's pedestrian bridge. The Clearwater City Charter prohibits the Council from leasing City-owned property for more than 30 years unless that lease is approved at a referendum. To some, the "license" is nothing more than a synonym for "lease", and its term should be limited to 30 years as required by the Charter.
Finally, the potential of condominium-like ownership of the resort's hotel units has created some concern among citizens. Some think that the sale of any of the 209 hotel units created from the Beach by Design density pool should be prohibited.
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