CLEARWATER - The final City approval needed to begin construction of the Sea Pearl resort may be granted by the City Council during their Thursday January 20th meeting. Planning staff will be asking the Council to approve a development agreement that features the assignment of units from the Beach by Design density pool, and seeks the City's cooperation in developing a 57-slip boat dock adjacent to publicly owned property near the proposed resort. The Sea Pearl will replace what is now the Clearwater Beach Hotel.
The site plan for the 253-room plus 119 condo unit resort was approved by Clearwater's Community Development Board during their December 14 meeting. The CDB also voted at that time to recommend approval of the proposed development agreement to the City Council.
The proposed agreement assigns 141 units from the Beach by Design density pool to the resort. Those 141 units combined with the existing hotel's 137 rooms create a maximum development potential of 278 rooms, but the developer, JMC Communities' Mike Cheezem, plans to convert 25 of the existing rooms into 11,000 square feet of retail use, leaving 253 units for use as hotel rooms.
The granting of Beach by Design density pool units has come at a cost to resort developers on the beach, and Sand Pearl is no exception. The already-approved Hyatt and pending K&P Clearwater Estate resorts on South Beach will both contribute to the construction of Beach Walk improvements. The Sand Pearl, having no Beach Walk frontage, proposes instead to improve the City rights-of-way for its Mandalay Avenue, San Marco Street and Baymont Street frontages. The improvements will consist of undergrounding utilities, new curbs and sidewalks, new landscaping and street furniture, and reconstruction of Baymont Street and Mandalay Avenue to match the improvements already made by the City to the south of the project site. JMC estimated the cost of these improvements to be $861,000.
Of the three proposed resorts seeking density pool units, the Sand Pearl is the only one having direct beach access. What it doesn't have, however, is bay frontage for a private marina. But across Mandalay Avenue lies an undeveloped basin fronted by a City-owned recreation center, an area suitable for docks and close to the planned resort. The development agreement seeks the City's help in securing a Soveriegnty Submerged Lands Lease (SSLL) for the cove with the State of Florida, and authorizing the construction of a 57-slip docking facility that would be accessed via the City-owned property.
Should the SSLL be granted by the State, a separate Boat Dock Agreement would be made between JMC and the City. Under the terms of that agreement, JMC Communities would build the dock at its own expense, and assume responsibility for all maintenance. The agreement gives the resort control of 67% (38) of the slips for the benefit of its owners, tenants and guests. The City would control 33% (19 slips), but those would be limited to "day use" by members of the public. The proposed dock agreement would have an initial term of 5 years, and would be automatically renewed for 5 successive terms of 5 years each, concurrent with the renewal terms of the 5-year submerged lands lease.
There is clearly a demand for more wet storage slips in Clearwater, as evidenced by the 18-month waiting list at the Municipal Marina. But Bill Morris, Clearwater's Harbormaster, said that there is also a need for public tie-ups that would allow residents to make a day trip to the beach by boat, rather than by car. The City has only one such tie-up today, adjacent to the boat ramp at the Beach Recreation Center.
Overnight use of the City-controlled slips would be prohibited. Morris said that overnight use might lead to all-night parties and loud noise. "Rather than invite a law enforcement problem," Morris said, "the slips will be limited to day use only."
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition