CLEARWATER - During separate meetings on January 17th, Clearwater's City Council and Community Development Board (CDB) expressed concerns with the proposed amendments to the City's Development Agreement with the proposed Hyatt Hotel on Clearwater Beach.
As reported in last week's Gazette, one amendment would allow the owners of the condominium-hotel units to use their rooms 60 days per year, up from 30 in the existing agreement. The City, intending to revitalize the Clearwater Beach tourism industry, had gifted 209 of the Hyatt's 250 hotel rooms from the Beach by Design density pool.
Alluding to other hotel projects that were granted units from that density pool, Mayor Frank Hibbard asked City Attorney Pam Akin, "How can we rectify that with other projects? Is that something that's got to be across the board then for the entire beach?"
Akin responded, "…I think we have two others that want to amend their development agreement to have up to 60 days for the owners, then they could do that."
Regarding the 60-day provision, Vice Mayor Bill Jonson told Akin, "I'm not sure I understand the '..tied to projected vacancy rates…'". Akin responded, "I didn't actually write that provision, so I'm not sure exactly what they mean either." But, implying that the Hyatt developers may be having difficulty selling the condo-hotel units with the existing 30-day use limitation, Akin said, "I think they want to give maximum flexibility to the purchaser of the unit, to be able to use it for their vacations…"
Hibbard observed, "It's all about marketability." Later he asked, "What are we getting?" Akin responded, "We got some changes to our construction time for Beach by Design." Hibbard replied, "I would like to have gotten a little bit more on the construction side of Beach Walk."
Later on Tuesday, the amended Hyatt development agreement was the subject of a CDB hearing. Interestingly, representatives of the Hyatt were not present.
David Little represented the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce at the hearing. He expressed the Chamber's concern with extending an owners use of his condo-hotel unit to 60 days per. In addition, he pointed out that the development agreement fails to ensure that the Hyatt's 400 public parking spaces will be managed for public benefit. Hotel employees, guests at hotel events and others could deplete the number of available public spaces, Little said.
The CDB shared the Chamber's parking concern, voting unanimously to recommend that the City Council approve the agreement, but with a provision requiring the City to monitor parking, ensuring that the 400 public spaces remain available to beach goers, not occupied by those who might be attending events at the Hyatt.
Approval of the amendments to the Hyatt development agreement is on the agenda of tonight's City Council meeting.
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