Friday, March 03, 2017

The Thick Plottens: SAN MARCO HOTEL PUD's Fake Tunnel Causes PZB Delay

From St. Augustine Residents Count Facebook page, from Capt. Lee Geanuleas, USN (Ret.):

 Is the San Marco Hotel PUD plot thickening? 
In a letter dated Feb 21, 2017 the lawyer for San Marco Hotel developer Kanti Patel has asked the city for a continuance until April 4, 2017 of the Planning and Zoning Board (PZB) hearing of Mr. Patel's request to rezone the current Barnacle Bill's property from HP-5 to PUD for hotel parking. The reason given in the letter is to get approval of changes Mr Patel is making to his hotel parking plan at the March 16th HARB hearing.
The March 16th HARB agenda lists this as item 7: 
Katerina Devane – Owner of 17 Grove
San Marco Hotel, Inc. – Owner (this is Kanti Patel)
St. Johns Law Group/James G. Whitehouse, Esq–Applicant
6 W. Castillo Drive (AKA San Marco Hotel PUD), 11
Grove Avenue, 14 W. Castillo Drive, 17 Grove Avenue,
and 19 Grove Avee
To modify a previously approved Opinion of
Appropriateness for the design of new surface parking lots
and associated site features to include a tunnel. This
application is associated with an amendment to the Planned
Unit Development. 
A tunnel, Interesting.
The picture below shows the tunnel concept. The hotel is in light blue on the right and the parking lot in dark brown to the left. The tunnel runs from the hotel's valet station, down what was originally the ramp to the underground parking garage, under the swimming pool area and then up into the ex-Barnacle Bill's main lot. According to the lawyer's letter, this revision is based on citizen input and discussions withboard members at the last PZB hearing. 
Great. Citizen input has shaped, at least to some degree, the concept for the hotel parking. Nice to know. 
Now, before you crack the champagne and toast this development, there are a few things to keep in mind. 
1) This is just a concept drawing. So far, nothing showing this concept is architecturally feasible has been provided. And didn't this developer claim that "underground site issues" made the originally proposed underground parking garage unworkable? Recall that just a little over 12 months ago this same developer received an amendment to his hotel PUD to add rooms and interior space and never mentioned "underground site issues." 
Is this tunnel even possible? Or will the developer get approval for his parking PUD based on this tunnel concept only to come back next year and announce that something "completely unforeseeable" (gravity? tectonic plate movement? a shortage of Minorcan clam chowder?) renders the tunnel impossible to build? Would you be shocked? 
2) Notice the addition of the owner of 17 Grove Ave to the HARB agenda. This is the property that sits between Barnacle Bill's and its satellite parking lot on the west side of 17 Grove. What does this mean? 
Is Mr. Patel buying 17 Grove Ave and planning to create a Walmart-sized mega-parking lot out of the connected parcels (which are all zoned HP-5)? If so, what happens to the house at 17 Grove (which is a contributing structure to the North City National Register Historic District)? 
Wow! With all the intrigue, twists and turns, this PUD plot is worthy of a John le Carré novel.

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