CLEARWATER – A request by Clearwater Grande LLC to add 10 units to its proposed Hampton Inn and Suites cleared its first hurdle on April 3 when the Clearwater City Council unanimously agreed to approve an amendment to the company’s existing development agreement with the city.
But that approval does not become effective unless the council approves it a second time, potentially at the April 16 council meeting.
Clearwater Grande owns a 1.437-acre parcel on the south side of South Gulfview Boulevard, approximately 894 feet west of Gulf Boulevard. Its 91-room Quality Inn and associated parking lot now occupy the east side of the property, with the hotel in a north/south orientation. The property is in the Tourist (“T”) District and the Clearwater Pass Character District, as well as being in the Resort Facilities High (“RFH”) category of the city’s Future Land Use Plan.
The company previously received city approval to downsize the number of units in the Quality Inn from 91 to 81 by knocking out walls to turn some of the rooms into suites. But that plan was scrapped when it was found to be impractical.
Instead, the company now wants to add 10 units to the 80 already approved from the city’s Hotel Density Reserve for the Hampton Inn. That would bring the total of the two hotels to 181 units or 125.96 units per acre, well below the 150 units per acre allowed by Beach by Design, the city’s master redevelopment plan for Clearwater Beach.
“On Feb. 14, 2014, a minor revision was approved that primarily reduced the mass of the (proposed Hampton Inn) building,” a memo from the city’s Planning and Development Department to the city council explains. “Almost 5,000 square feet of area was removed from the parking garage through improved design efficiencies and the use of mechanical lifts on the top floor of the garage. An additional 12 (parking) spaces were gained through the revisions for a total of 218 spaces where 206 were originally approved. Other minor design changes include the addition of balconies to many rooms which previously had none, a reduction in building height by 3 feet 4 inches and the addition of a roof design which better reflects the Hampton Inn and Suites prototypical roof parapet.”
Michael Delk, head of the city’s Planning and Development Department, explained that the site plan itself is not changing, and a new development order is required solely for the purpose of adding the 10 units to the Hampton. The developer will have a year from the date of final approval to get the new development order, he added.
The proposal will not degrade the level of service on public transportation in the area or nearby signalized intersections, the staff memo says. And it is consistent with the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s guidelines.
“The Project shall include 218 parking spaces, as defined in the Community Development Code, of which 211 will be provided by a parking garage with seven additional surface spaces being provided adjacent to the parking garage,” the proposed amendment states. “The parking garage, its accesses and the surface spaces will be shared with the existing adjacent Quality Inn site and contains sufficient parking for both hotels.”
Councilmember Bill Jonson said that he does not consider the extra rooms an “entitlement” for the hotel owner, “but rather that the citizens do receive a benefit from them by encouraging the development of mid-priced hotel rooms instead of condos.”