MADEIRA BEACH – A developer who is proposing a 78-room six-story hotel for the heart of John’s Pass Village says he is ready to proceed on the project, as soon as he gets the city’s approval.
But commissioners at their Aug. 28 workshop did not agree to having a “shared use agreement” on a city-owned alleyway that runs through the center of the property, which the developer says is needed.
The commission wanted developer Jack Bodziak to go ahead with an informational meeting with affected residents Thursday, Sept. 6, to be followed by further discussions at the September city commission meeting. Commissioners asked that residents from the entire city be invited to the meeting, well beyond those within 200 feet of the project as required by city code. Bodziak agreed to include all city residents in advertisements for the meeting.
A hotel development at John’s Pass has been talked about for some time, but this was the first formal presentation of the plans. City Planning and Zoning Director Linda Portal said Bodziak has submitted an application for the hotel. He also asked that the city attorney prepare an agreement for shared use of a city-owned right of way bisecting the site, called Fisherman’s Alley, which would allow him to build over it and connect the two sides of the property.
The location is between 129th Avenue and Boardwalk Place, where there is currently a large dirt surface parking lot along 129th and shops facing Boardwalk Place.
Bodziak said he designed the hotel “to make it as viable as possible for the commission.” He reduced the height from eight stories to six, responding to commissioners’ concerns. Bodziak said the 78 hotel suites are “well within the city’s density requirements.”
A hotel has been lacking at John’s Pass, Bodziak said.
“We can get this done,” he said.
The property parcels are assembled and the plans have been developed. A water park, pool and retail shops as well as a three-story parking garage are incorporated into the hotel design.
The parking garage will include about 300 parking spaces, but only half of them will be needed for the hotel, Bodziak said. The other half would be available for general parking.
“We will solve the parking problem and bring a new element of hotel space to the Pass. This will be a very pleasant addition,” he said.
The garage parking will be on both sides of the alley, connected three floors up, Bodziak said. He is proposing that the city will receive a portion of the parking proceeds, as a “thank you” for allowing shared use of the city-owned alleyway.
Bodziak said the alley will be paved and widened, with enough height to allow for garbage and maintenance trucks to pass through.
“We want to improve it and will pay the expenses of maintaining it,” he said.
The agreement he is seeking with the city for the alley is a “shared use agreement.” Bodziak emphasized he is not asking the city to give up ownership of the alley and will not inhibit use of it in any way.
“We want to build over it to make our parking more efficient. And we’ll share the revenue with the city,” he said.
Despite the assurances, most commissioners were not ready to give their approval to Bodziak’s hotel project along with agreement for the alleyway.
Commissioner Deby Weinstein said, “I am not an advocate of joint public and private arrangements when the city does not really have control.”
Weinstein said she wants to see the outcome of the meeting with affected residents “where members of the community can come and see it.”
“I don’t agree with having our attorney present us with any kind of an agreement until you’ve gotten the feel of the whole community,” she told Bodziak.
Commissioner Nancy Oakley said she wants to see the results of a survey in progress that will “show who owns what in the Pass.”
“I want to hold off until this has been completed,” she said.
Oakley also said the biggest issue is with traffic. She said it’s not just this project, but all of the developments planned for the city that could bring big traffic problems.
“How are all of these going to play out throughout the whole city?” she asked.
Mayor Maggi Black said she was fine with letting the process move forward to a neighborhood meeting.
Only Commissioner Nancy Hodges said she totally supports the project.
“I’m all for it. I’ve seen the plans. It’s a great idea,” she said.
Commissioner John Douthirt was absent from the meeting.
City Manager Jonathan Evans said the next step for the Johns Pass Resort project will be to go through the community meeting process, where the city will get feedback from residents and businesses. That will be followed by a commission workshop discussion. The project also will go through the Planning Board.
Though Bodziak said “we are ready to proceed when we get approval,” that may not happen in the two to three-month ztimeframe he said he is looking for.
City crews to do stormwater system maintenance
Beginning next year, city workers will take on the clearing and cleaning of stormwater pipes and basins, a major part of the city’s stormwater management program. That job has been contracted to an outside firm since 2013.
Public Works and Marina Director Dave Marsicano said the city is purchasing a camera and other equipment so the pipes can be properly cleaned and jet-washed.
The switch “will let us control our own destiny and costs rather than relying on contractors,” Marsicano said.