Longboat Key Town Commission to Hold Final Vote on St. Regis on October 20 | Rowboat key

On Wednesday afternoon, the Longboat Key Town commission voted to approve the first reading of the residency changes in the St. Regis Longboat Key Resort proposal.

The 3-2 vote on the ordinance means the city commission will hold a second reading and a final vote later this month.

Unicorp CEO Chuck Whittall presented the Longboat Key Town Commission with proposed changes to St. Regis development.

“We’re nearing the end,” said Chuck Whittall, CEO of Unicorp National Developments. “I hope the next hearing won’t be that long. I think we’ve come to a page where we can develop it.

Mayor Ken Schneier explained why he voted in favor of Unicorp’s proposal for the St. Regis site.

“I think the overarching project is a great addition to Longboat Key,” said Schneier. “We’ve been waiting 12 years for someone to go out and do a project, and we’ve really met a wonderful developer (and) a wonderful operator.”

At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop and District 4 Commissioner Debra Williams voted against the order. Commissioner Maureen Merrigan was absent and Commissioner Sherry Dominick, an employee of Michael Saunders & Co., recused herself. The real estate company manages the sales of St. Regis condo units.

“This is the only way for me to make a statement about violating the erosion control lines and violating our parking ordinance,” Bishop said. “We are regularly beaten on these two issues, so I think overall it’s a good project.”

Bishop said she wanted Unicorp to stick with its original plan that the city had already adopted in 2018. Specifically, Bishop said she wanted to see Unicorp provide more parking than the proposed amount of 405, which which is the same amount the city needs. Unicorp plans to provide 62 additional parking spaces for special events.

The plan previously approved in 2018 provided for 457 places. However, Unicorp plans to reduce the number of residential units from 78 to 69.

While it’s not clear how many parking spaces St. Regis staff would need each day, Whittall said the development’s three restaurants are designed to be open at different times of the day. He also said the site doesn’t want to turn away potential customers either.

“Remember if we don’t have enough parking spaces it hurts us,” Whittall said.

Williams said she voted “no” because of the parking situation at the proposed site and the location of the proposed Monkey Bar and event pavilion.

“I think it’s really important,” said Williams. “I think they have a golden opportunity to set a good example for the city.”

The city board approved Unicorp’s request for a 41.7-foot waterfront setback for the proposed Monkey Bar, but denied the request for a 76.1-foot setback for the pavilion. the event. The questions are still subject to discussion at the meeting of the municipal committee on October 20.

“I think if you move one you might as well move the other because it encroaches on the 150 feet of the ECL,” said Williams.

Attorney Brenda Patten legally represented Unicorp throughout the approval and procurement process. She provided documents showing that the settlement structures were closer to the water than Unicorp had requested. She also provided documentation showing how there are tiki huts closer to the ECL at Tencon Beach Association, just south of the St. Regis site.

“The impact of wind and storm would be about the same regardless of the location,” Patten said. “But for our project, the real question is, why are these setbacks for the Monkey Bar and the event pavilion important?

“And the truth is, they are a very important part of the St. Regis Hotel program amenity package.”

Whittall said Unicorp is considering either designing a portable event pavilion or moving a permanent pavilion somewhere on the property.

On Wednesday, the municipal commission decided to maintain in a section of the ordinance which reads as follows: “If a section, a subsection, a sentence, a clause or a provision of this ordinance is held to be invalid, the remainder of the order will be invalid. “

Brenda Patten provided this card to defend the setbacks of the Monkey Bar and the event pavilion.

Unicorp had hoped to convert the section to severable terms, so if the development faces potential legal challenges within 30 days, that wouldn’t force the whole project to fail.

This is something that the city commission and Unicorp will likely discuss on October 20 during the second reading of the measure. Unicorp plans to hold an invitation-only inauguration ceremony on October 25.

Joe Ziomek and his wife Gwen Baseman-Ziomek came from San Francisco to appear before the Longboat Key Town commission on Wednesday. The couple had agreed to buy a condo. However, they decided not to act after Unicorp asked buyers in St. Regis in September for a 13% increase on agreed purchase prices.

“I don’t trust the guy,” Ziomek said of Whittall. “Are you kidding me? 13% now. How many three years from now?”

Whittall’s letter offered buyers of St. Regis condos five days to agree to new terms or opt out for a deposit refund.

On Wednesday, Whittall said 10 buyers have pulled out since Unicorp requested the increase, which it attributed to supply chain disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Whittall told the Observer in September that Unicorp had only hoped for a 10% increase for buyers.

“This story he tells in the letter is funny, and that’s what I told him,” Ziomek said.

Ziomek said Whittall should have either waited for the market to stabilize or canceled the project altogether.

“It’s not fair,” Ziomek said.

When Ziomek refused to sign the release for the 13% increase, he said Unicorp returned his $ 217,000 to him.

A September 29 email shows Unicorp condo buyers scheduled a Zoom Friday session with Whittall. However, Whittall said Unicorp has contacted each buyer individually and the Zoom session will not take place.

“He was a pot-stirring buyer,” Whittall said.

In Unicorp’s purchase contracts, there is a provision which states: “(Unicorp) shall have the right, at Unicorp’s sole discretion, to rescind this agreement and to have the purchaser’s down payments refunded within. the event that (Unicorp) does not enter into binding contracts to sell at least eighty percent (80%) of the condominium units by November 30, 2021.

Whittall denied that the 80% threshold was the reason Unicorp decided to sell the remaining condos.

“We were adjusting the prices,” Whittall said. “We want to meet 80%. The likelihood of us hitting it on November 30 is very unlikely, and we really haven’t taken the condos off the market. They’ve been in MLS.

Whittall said his team had asked realtors Michael Saunders to increase the price of the remaining condos, especially with rising construction costs.

“We have determined what these price adjustments are, and we should have completed that determination by this week,” said Whittall.

In August, Whittall said Unicorp had sold 84% of its proposed residential units and added that a few units would be held up for later sale. However, on September 23, after sending Unicorp’s letter, he told the Observer that St. Regis condos were sold 80% by volume and 76% by number of units.

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