Shown is an artist’s rendering of the Courtyard on Main.
DUNEDIN – Over the past several months developers of a proposed downtown mixed-use project got an earful from residents who complained about its design and other elements. So they went back to the drawing board.
They decided to engage community groups and officials in the discussions to get direction on what they would like to see on the property in the middle of downtown, at Main Street and Douglas Avenue.
They also hired the Lunz Group and Dunedin-based architect Jim Graham to oversee the design of the Courtyard on Main at Douglas Avenue and Main Street.
“We’ve really changed everything and kind of started fresh,” said Nils Kushta, a spokesman for the developers, Arlis Construction.
The project continues with the concept of having retail space on the first floor – about 16,000 square feet – with a café, two floors of condominiums above and basement parking. Previous plans called for 20,000 square feet of retail space.
“We pulled back from the street, kind of creating more public space and created a semi-public private space in the back of the property. So what we are trying to do is really create a flow of pedestrians and flow of customers walking through the property,” Kushta said.
Dozens of residents spoke out against previous concepts for the development, criticizing proposed architectural styles and contending that it is incompatible with existing downtown development. Some city commissioners, too, were critical of the architecture, voting 3-2 Feb. 16 against the design of the project, which was called the Plaza, and raising concerns about setbacks. “This project we are looking to do a more classical design that fits into the fabric of downtown Dunedin. We would describe it as Mediterranean revival,” Kushta said. “We are looking to pull a lot of pastel colors and make the building look as if it were built up over time.”
When developers devised the initial concept for this project, they had several meetings with the stakeholders groups, including downtown merchants, the community organization called Preserve the Vibe, city staff and some city commissioners.
“We incorporated the feedback we received and took our time to develop the initial concept into a cohesive design,” Kushta said in an email June 22. “As we make our initial application this week, we are also launching a website to share the project renderings and discuss some of the major changes that have taken place. There will be a form on the website that visitors and local residents can use to send us their personal feedback and comments about the project directly.”
Harry Steinman, president of the Vibe, said he likes what he’s seen of the project so far. At this point, the project is under staff review. The design is yet to be presented to the local planning agency.
“It’s all step by step. The next step, we might have an issue. The developers seem to be committed to making this a community project rather then just a developer’s project.”
Steinman is pleased that Graham is associated with the project.
“I like the idea that they’re using a long-time resident (Jim Graham) as the architect,” Steinman said. “Because he is sensitive to the way the community is put together.”