By Rachel Brown Hackney, SarasotaNewsLeader.com
A fourth hotel project has been planned for property on Siesta Key. This one would be constructed on the approximately 2.15 acres where the former Wells Fargo bank stood at 5810 Midnight Pass Rd.
On March 19, Sarasota County Planning and Development Services Department staff received a preliminary application from Weiqi Lin of Port and Coastal Consultants in Sarasota, outlining plans for a 100-room boutique hotel on the parcel that Wells Fargo recently sold to ABC SUB2 LLC, whose principal is Dave Balot, the document shows.
The parcel is approximately 1,200 feet from Siesta Public Beach, “which equates to a five-minute walk,” the preliminary application points out. It also is about 1.25 miles from Siesta Village, and it is immediately south of the Gulf & Bay condominium complex.
“The owner is a member of the Siesta Key community, not someone from out of town, who currently owns real estate and has business interests on Siesta Key,” the application said. “As a member of the community, he understands the concerns involving the environment, the beaches, the waters, the lack of parking and the impacts of development [on the island].”
Balot is the chief operating officer of Siesta Key Beach Resorts and Suites, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The only other project team member identified is Mark Sultana of DSDG Architects of Sarasota.
The hotel design also would encompass a 9,350-square-foot restaurant and bar, the application says, and would be open to the public as well as guests.
“The existing one-story building [comprising 8,580 square feet] was built in 1971, and has a total of 49,450 [square feet] of asphalt parking,” with total impervious lot coverage of 65.42%, the document says.
Further, the parcel is the only one on the island zoned Commercial General within the Siesta Key Overlay District that is surrounded by residential multi-family properties, the application notes.
“The uniqueness of its size makes it an ideal parcel for a boutique hotel on Siesta Key,” the document adds, “and its location is perfect for a hotel/restaurant bar to serve the many visitors” who come to the island each year.
Balot also is asking for a change in county zoning and land-use regulations to allow the maximum 35-foot height for commercial construction on the Key to be calculated above the planned two levels of parking.
Such a design “is the best solution for the property growth and development of a much-needed new hotel on Siesta Key. The owner is interested in working with the Siesta Key Association, the Siesta Key Condominium Council, the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, neighboring communities, and all residents who live on the Key to develop this property,” the document adds.
The parking levels would have a total of 394 spaces, including spots designated for motorcycles, golf carts and bicycles.
“Parking will include 97 extra beach parking/overflow parking spaces and seven handicapped spots to meet the current requirements under the [Unified Development Code regulations] for hotel and restaurant/bar parking,” the application says.
Further, a swimming pool approximately 32 feet by 115 feet in size, and one or more hot tubs, would be built on the third floor above the parking area.
The Wells Fargo branch closed on Nov. 18, 2020.
Based on the details in the March 4 deed of sale between Wells Fargo and ABC SUB2, the latter paid $4.41 million for the former bank site.
First Union National Bank of Florida Real Estate purchased the parcel on Feb. 28, 1992 for $1.3 million, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show.
In 2020, those records note, the market value of the parcel was $4.588 million.
Proposed density changes for the county’s barrier islands
Additionally, like the other three Siesta Key hotel proposals that have been outlined to county staff, this one seeks an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan to increase the residential density allowed for “transient accommodations” — the county term for hotels and motels.
In this latest situation, ABC SUB2 is proposing that lands zoned Commercial General (CG) in the Siesta Key Overlay District zoning regulations “may be redeveloped to a new resort/hotel/motel which has twice the density and intensity of current zoning regulations.”
The requested comprehensive plan change would apply to Future Land Use Policy 2.9.1, which regards residential density and intensity on the county’s barrier islands.
County regulations allow up to 13 dwelling units per acre on CG parcels. However, a hotel room without a kitchen counts as half a unit.
The team working on a proposed 170-room hotel on parcels between Calle Miramar and Beach Road on the edge of Siesta Village wants to eliminate residential density calculations for hotels altogether on the barrier islands.
The group seeking to construct a 120-room hotel on Old Stickney Point Road is calling for a change that would allow double the residential density for transient accommodations just in the South Bridge area of Siesta Key.
Finally, the team working on the redevelopment of the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites on Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village has filed a preliminary application seeking a countywide change to the Unified Development Code that would allow any existing transient accommodations with 40 or more units before March 13, 1989, and still in operation as of the date the amendment would take effect, to be redeveloped without having to comply with the CG residential density restrictions on the Key.