St. Augustine's historic district is in peril due to one willful man's greed and four City Commissioners' speed. Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery in the Oldest City from the franchisee of multinational oligopolist MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (NASDAQ & Chicago Exchange "MAR"), whose dodgy, faithless, feckless franchisee threatens to destroy our historic district with too much hotel, too little parking, and a broken legal commitment to provide underground parking (which four unwise City Commissioners voted for in deference to the generous contributor but faithless franchisee. Dissenting was Mayor Nancy Shaver, who held a fair hearing -- the problem is her colleagues, who don't enforce our Comprehensive Plan and turn deaf ears to zoning law enforcement concerns. It's not over, folks.
Posted June 4, 2017 12:02 am
Patel hotel is simply wrong for St. Augustine
By Sue Aigrets
St. Augustine Record
Eleven years ago, developer Kanti Patel was approved for a Planned Unit Development to build the new San Marco Hotel on the corner of West Castillo and San Marco, in HP-5.
It was to have underground parking, similar to his successful development of the Hilton Hotel on the bayfront. This year, Mr. Patel came back to the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board asking to add an additional half-acre of HP-5 to his PUD for surface parking.
His justification was that underground parking was not feasible. After several hearings, the PZB denied the application, followed by an appeal to the City Commission that with the exception of Mayor Shaver, found that the board members had erred in their findings. But did they?
During the last PZB hearing, the applicant’s engineer admitted that underground parking is possible, but far more expensive than originally thought.
As a PZB board member, I moved to deny the application because:
n The need and justification, the very basis of a PUD request, is in violation of our zoning code —“we need more land because it cost too much to do what was approved” is not justifiable. Zoning doesn’t exist to bail out developers.
n The project is in violation of our Comp Plan requiring that HP districts be primarily residential (the completed project as requested would be more than 20 percent of the district added to its existing commercial entities), and that it maintain the low intensive ambiance of the neighborhood, and pedestrian scale of the neighborhood.
Clearly a hotel approximately the size of the Casa Monica with 60-foot towers built right up to the street is neither low intensive nor pedestrian scale.
n And then, there is parking.
In the midst of the city dealing with mobility and parking, this PUD would provide 144 parking spaces, 89 of them for hotel rooms.
The remaining 55 spaces are to cover staff parking plus 10,000 square feet of accessory uses including a ballroom, restaurant, bar and convention space.
During the last PZB hearing, former St. Augustine Beach Planning and Zoning Board member Karen Zander testified, using submitted architects plans measured against our CoSA Code and Florida Building Code, that a total 283 spots were needed, versus 144 offered.
Obviously that is not nearly enough — and all of this across from the parking garage on, arguably, the busiest street in St. Augustine!
I hope the Commission revisits this during first and second readings of this application.
I hope all who have misgivings about the congestion this will cause come and make their voices heard.
This one is important.
As a member of the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board, this letter represents my own thoughts only. It is in no way to be interpreted as those of the board.
From St. Augustine Residents Count: