Saturday, February 04, 2017

Will HP-5 District Be Devoured by KANTI PATEL and expanding Marriott Renaissance project?

By Capt. Lee Geanuleas, U.S.N. (Ret)., St. Augustine Residents Count:

"PUD-DING away" a historic preservation district? We may need our Vision tested. 
The picture below shows the boundaries of the Historic Preservation District 5 (HP-5) and the property currently owned by hotel developer Kanti Patel and property in HP-5 Mr. Patel has either made an offer to buy or in which he has expressed an interest. 
The scarlet colored block on the right end of the W. Castillo Dr. /Grove Ave block was taken out of HP-5 in 2006 when Mr. Patel was granted a planned unit development (PUD) for a four story hotel with underground parking. That decision reduced HP-5 by about 15%. 
Now, 11 years later, Mr. Patel tells the city that he just learned that "underground site issues" preclude the underground garage and since he recently bought the Barnacle Bill's restaurant next to the hotel PUD and its satellite parking lot (pink blocks), he would like to rezone those parcels out of HP-5 and into his hotel PUD for use as hotel valet parking lots.
Mr. Patel's request to rezone Barnacle Bill's will be considered by the Planning & Zoning Board this 2:00 PM Tuesday, Feb 7th at the Willie Galimore Center (399 Riberia St). If approved, that will remove about 6% from what's left of the HP-5 district. Yikes! 
Mr. Patel also owns the old Chamber of Commerce building lot at the west end of W. Castillo (brownish block) and made an offer (so far unsuccessful) to buy the 0.43 acre lot next door. He's a hotel developer, so it's unlikely he wants to own these lots just to own them. It's more likely he has a plan for those properties on the west end of W. Castillo. 
HP-5 contains 13 historic houses which are "Contributing Structures" to the North City National Register Historic District (NRHD). HP-5 was created to serve as protection for those lovely homes and as a buffer to the North City NRHD. 
If the city rips another 6% out of HP-5, then it will have reduced HP-5 by about 20%. At that point, is it still a viable and sustainable HP district? What do you think will happen to the rest of the district, particularly since that same developer owns another property in the same district? What happens to residential properties on Grove Ave and north of Grove in the North City NRHD? 
St Augustine is a city that CLAIMS it values its history and seeks authenticity (2014 City Vision Document). If the city dismantles an Historic Preservation District for the convenience and benefit of a developer, what does that say about that claim? What's our true vision? 
If you want the city to support its published vision, please come out and share your thoughts with the PZB next Tuesday at 2:00 PM (Willie Galimore Center).

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