An artist’s rendering of Victoria Place - a mixed-use development in downtown Dunedin.
DUNEDIN – City commissioners gave final approval June 5 to plans for a mixed-use development in downtown Dunedin after receiving assurances from staff that potential traffic problems near the city marina off U.S. Alt. 19 will be addressed.
Developers of Victoria Place expect to break ground in the fall on the project, which will have about 10,000 square feet of retail space and 32 luxury condominiums.
Dunedin Commissioners said they are sensitive to concerns about additional traffic coming to and from the development, but, as in previous meetings, they lauded the developers for their work on the project.
“I feel very confident that this is a quality development. I think the parties involved have been very accommodating,” Commissioner Julie Scales said.
The owners and applicants for the development at Main Street and Victoria Drive are listed as 200 Main St. LLC, Joseph J. Kokolakis and Victoria Place LLC, John Hobach.
Though she said the project was good for the community, Commissioner Julie Ward-Bujalski reiterated Friday nights, and she asked staff to be creative in addressing the problem.
“I’m just afraid there is going to be folks trying to get out and folks coming in and traffic is going to back up,” she said.
City Planning Director Greg Rice said although from a design standpoint there is no “magic bullet,” such as creating a roundabout, he said staff will keep traffic moving.
“If we can’t solve it through engineering, we’ll solve it through traffic enforcement. A deputy can move those people out of that marina drive, if that’s where we have to go,” Rice said.
Rice and commissioners also touched on a larger issue: providing more parking for downtown.
“We are deep into our planning for how we are going to provide another 500 spaces for this downtown over the next several years, and wherever that be, how we are going to move people to it.
What we have to do is get remote parking and move people to where they want to be,” Rice said.
Bette Poulos, a resident of Dunedin who works downtown off Broadway, was concerned that the building “will overshadow our existing and really charming shopping area and change the focus on what visitors expect to experience when they come to Dunedin.”
She said she walks a lot in Dunedin and knows the traffic problems and “appreciates the caution being voiced here.”
“I personally do not think Victoria Place development will really enhance our community …,” she said.
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 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.
Ward-Bujalski asked staff about another concern she had at the last meeting, the courtyard being closed at night. She noted that the developers are getting fee credits for providing the public space. The courtyard will be open without any gating at all times, Rice said.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the development plans.
City officials see the project as a major entrance point into downtown. From looking at an artist’s rendering, it’s difficult for a layperson to see what the project will be, Ward-Bujalski said.
“But I don’t think it will look like a strip mall at all,” she said. “I think it’s going to look really nice. It also has depth to it.”
The whole area needs some improvements, Commissioner Ron Barnette said.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to set a good example,” he said.
City officials also said the project will further strengthen the connectivity of Main Street to the waterfront, and it will bring revenue to the Community Redevelopment Agency for future infrastructure needs, such as a parking.
Mayor Dave Eggers said, “Everybody has property rights and some ability to develop within reason.”
“I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be a nice project,” he said. “We have some proven developers who are homegrown and know what the city is looking for.”