TREASURE ISLAND – Although only three of five referendum questions passed on the March 12 ballot, city officials are happy with what they got.
“This is a big step forward for the city,” said Mayor Bob Minning. “This gets us a majority of what we want.”
City Commissioner Phil Collins agreed.
“This is the first step and opens the door,” he said. “Now the plan is in place. This defines what (a developer) can do.”
Voters said yes to a question regarding an increase of two feet to the maximum height of buildings citywide.
According to city officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers additional flood insurance discounts when cities require an additional two feet of clearance beneath the first floor of new structures. The proposal that passed gives back the two feet lost.
While this proposal is important, it’s two others passed by voters that open the door for downtown redevelopment.
The first allows for a density increase to 24 residential units per acre in the downtown mixed use core district and another allows a density increase to 15 residential units per acre along the east side of Gulf Boulevard from 103rd to 106th avenues and 108th to 112th avenues.
Another proposal that failed would have allowed a density increase to 60 tourist dwelling units per acre on the east side of Gulf Boulevard.
A fifth proposal, which would allow 60 tourist dwelling units per acre in the downtown core district, resulted in a draw - 762-762 tie.
Collins said the second question, which passed, means mixed use can become a reality in the downtown district on 107th Avenue.
“A developer can buy a block of buildings and put a storefront on the ground level and townhomes on top,” Collins said. “This would be in the north and south plazas.”
Minning said the failure of the proposed density increase to 60 tourist dwelling units per acre is not a major setback for the city.
“Quite frankly, I can live with transient lodging at the existing level,” he said. “Twenty-two per acre will hold.”
The key, Collins predicted, will be getting downtown merchants to sell their properties to a developer.
“There are a number of different owners in the downtown core,” Collins said. “The last time I checked it’s 40 or 45. Getting them all to sell is going to be the key.”