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Dunedin ecstatic about Victoria Place
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Photo courtesy CITY OF DUNEDIN
The latest artist’s rendering for Victoria Place, a proposed mixed-used development that call for 30 luxury condominiums and 8,000 square feet of retail space at Main Street and Victoria Drive in Dunedin.
DUNEDIN – City officials are enthusiastic about plans for a mixed-used development that call for 30 luxury condominiums and 8,000 square feet of retail space at Main Street and Victoria Drive.

Dunedin commissioners voted 4-0 May 1 to approve the development plan for Victoria Place. The ordinance will be presented to the commission for final approval Thursday, June 5.

Commissioner Heather Gracy said she couldn’t thank the developers and staff enough for the project. The owners and applicants are listed as 200 Main St. LLC, Joseph J. Kokolakis and Victoria Place LLC, John Hobach.

“At first sight, it’s kind of like a flagship building coming into our downtown,” Gracy said.

“I’m excited about it,” Mayor Dave Eggers said. “I think this is exactly what we have been looking for, what we have been talking about for some time.”

The project was designed as an anchor for downtown and Main Street with architecture that will complement downtown but offer a “unique building,” said a letter from Hobach, president of Victoria Place.

The proposed building has retail, storage and parking on the first floor with the residential units on the second, third and fourth floors.

The developers said the proposed project benefits the public through a variety of aspects, such as art in a variety of places on the project and possibly through the design of benches and bike racks on site.

Mike Cheezem, a spokesman for the developers, said “we have done, redone, redone and redone, and we are at the point where we are very happy with what we have.”

City Planning Director Greg Rice said city officials asked the developers if they could work with them to provide public space.

He said the developers “stepped up to the plate” and less than 24 hours changed their plans to provide to the city a 1,200 square foot courtyard in the middle of the project in a signature location “right as you are looking up Edgewater Drive.”

Among the few concerns expressed by commissioners was the possible limitation of public access to the courtyard during certain hours.

City planners recommend that the courtyard be closed by the use of gates at dusk, similar to city parks. That would allow Victoria Place residents to have private gatherings in the evenings.

“It’s something they didn’t even ask for, but it’s a thought of ours that if we lived in a residential area after dark, we really wouldn’t want people coming in there for the wrong reasons,” Rice said.

Commissioner Julie Ward-Bujalski asked staff to work with the development group on a plan for courtyard access at night, expressing concerns about it being closed to the public in the early evening when people are out enjoying the town. She noted that the developers are getting fee credits for providing the public space.

“To me it has to be spelled out in the development agreement as to what point can it be closed off,” she said. “If it is public space and we are giving credit for public space, it needs to remain public space as long as possible.”

Cheezem said developers don’t expect problems to occur with the courtyard, but they would like to right to close the gates in the evening hours.

“If it becomes a nuisance, we don’t our residents to not have a way to rectify an uncomfortable situation,” he said.

Addressing concerns about traffic, Rice said city officials are working together along with the Florida Department of Transportation to address the traffic pattern in the area in a comprehensive manner, noting that plans call for the Fenway Hotel on Edgewater Driver to be rebuilt.

City officials also need to address how to get people in and out of the marina on to Main Street and Edgewater Drive, he said.

The property is expected to generate about $103,852 in property taxes to the Community Redevelopment Agency fund.

City reports said that among the specific public benefits proposed by the applicant are improvements to Victoria Drive, landscaping along Victoria Drive, construction of nine public parking spaces, construction of a new sidewalk along the eastern right of way of Victoria Drive, repaving of Victoria Drive from Main Street to the northern end of the property and burying overhead electrical lines along Victoria Drive that are currently located on the eastern side of Victoria Drive.

Improvements adjacent to Main Street include the removal of vehicular access drives on Main Street and replacement with new curbs, sidewalks and landscaping. The developer also plans to remove the brick retaining wall along the edge of Main Street right of way and relocate foxtail palm trees located on southern edge of property adjacent to Main Street.

Commissioner Ron Barnette was absent.
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