The following list documents the effort to put up a hotel complex on the Fillmore Parking Lot site, which is proposed to include a gourmet market (e.g. Morton's) and enough covered parking to replace what is there and to provide enough additional parking spaces for the hotel and market.
Note: The City has a Coastal Islands Overlay District (click link) that controls commercial building height, density, etc... due to the environmentally sensitive nature of the City's keys and the limited access to them for emergency vehicles, hurricane evacuation, etc...
The City-owned Fillmore Drive parking lot came to be owned by the City in 1995. Before the parking lot was created, the land that is now the Fillmore lot consisted of two triangular shaped parcels with Fillmore Drive going diagonally straight through the site. A group of St. Armands commercial landowners contacted the owner of the property and began negotiating for its acquisition. The same group of landowners approached the City and expressed their interest in using the site for public parking for the businesses on St. Armands Circle. The City subsequently purchased the property in 1995.
The City financed the acquisition of the property by means of a special assessment that was levied on the properties within the Commercial Tourist zone district on St. Armands Key. The special assessment was collected over a twenty (20) year period from 1996 to 2016. The assessment was paid by the property owners in the form of an annual assessment added to property tax bills each year for the 20 year duration of the assessment.
Because of the high number of "triple net" leases on the Circle, in which such costs are passed on to the Lessee, it is probably fair to say that many of the business owners who were not property owners also participated in paying off the assessment, thus funding the acquisition of the Fillmore parking lot to be used for parking to support their businesses.
It has been reported to us that the JWM development group and their same architect wanted to put a boutique, five story hotel at this same site, with shops along the residential streets. The neighbors expressed much concern and unhappiness with the idea of their residential street being commercialized, and the City Commission at that time listened to the residents and did not allow this idea to move forward.
The JWM development group and their architect propose a hotel at the Fillmore Parking Lot site, to include a gourmet market (e.g. Morton's) and enough covered parking to replace what is there and to provide enough additional parking spaces for the hotel and market. It becomes an unsolicited proposal to purchase the property.
May 17, 2021
City Commission Meeting at which they vote 4-1 (Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch voting "no") to instruct City Staff to work with the group proposing the development at the Fillmore Parking Lot site.
July 14, 2021
July 21, 2021
Commissioner Liz Alpert is interviewed by St. Armands resident Mike Adkinson who inquires about why there won't be a competitive bid for the Fillmore Lot. Mike specifically asks: "If a lot of people are saying let's go for the best idea and not the first idea, what would you say". Commissioner Alpert says twice: "I don't think it requires a competitive bid".
August 16, 2021
City Commission Meeting at which they vote to give anyone else 90 days to submit a proposal for the Fillmore Parking Lot site, after which they intend to select a proposal to move forward with. This despite significant resident opposition to the proposal and to the process.
It seems that any offer made to the City must be contingent on at least these three things happening:
September 22, 2021
Memo from the City Attorney to the City Commission discussing how the existing 268 parking spaces on and around the Fillmore Parking Lot have to be retained by the City per the municipal bond that was issued to fund the St. Armands Parking Garage.
September 30, 2021
October 1, 2021
October 3, 2021
October 4, 2021
City Commission meeting at which the City Attorney and City Manager explain their concerns about the City's obligation to maintain the parking spaces at the Fillmore Parking Lot site. No vote was taken.
Note: During public feedback, Tom Leonard, owner of Shore restaurant and clothing store on St. Armands and Longboat, begins to present a competing offer and development proposal for the Fillmore Parking Lot site, but he is cut short because of the three minute time restriction. We look forward to hearing more about this soon.
2021 Member Survey Results
Question #1. Would you like the City Commission to sell the St. Armands Fillmore Parking Lot site to the development group who is proposing to build a boutique hotel there, along with a food market (similar to Morton's Gourmet Market on Osprey) and a parking garage? (n=125)
I don't know and/or I need more information: 22%
Our interpretation of these results: More respondents oppose this development than support it, but it's roughly 50/50 with a sizable number who still need more information and/or time to make up their mind. For a project that could have a significant and long-term impact on the residential experience in our neighborhood, we think the City should take more time to consider and debate this proposal.
Question #2. Commercial property owners on St. Armands are asking the City to increase the allowed height of commercial buildings from 35' to 45' and to allow the use of residences and boutique hotels on the upper levels. This would be on top of the 11' flood plain resulting in buildings that could be over 55' in height from grade. Do you support or oppose this?
Our interpretation of these results: A strong majority of St. Armands residents to NOT want a commercial height increase. And, now that at least three independent competing proposals have come in, none of which have requested a height increase to build a profitable development there, this seems completely unnecessary.
November 15, 2021
November 17, 2021
November 18, 2021
November 26, 2021
January 12, 2022
January 19, 2022
February 1, 2022
Letter from our Association to the City Commission: click here
To summarize this letter:
February 7, 2022
The City Commission voted 4-1 to NOT move forward with the sale of the Fillmore Parking Lot at this time.
But, this is not over. Now that the issues involved with the sale and development of the property have been more thoroughly and openly vetted (the parking garage bond obligations and the required zoning and comprehensive plan changes), there is nothing to stop any of the original proposers (or any new proposer) from coming back to the City with a new or updated offer for the City's consideration.
February 8, 2022
February 9, 2022
April 13, 2022
At a regular meeting of the St. Armands Business Improvement District, BID member, former BID chairperson, and Fillmore Lot development proposer Gavin Meshad says "I'm not out on the Circle very often, so I'm not in tune with what's working and not working".
August 30, 2022
September 6, 2022
On the same day, there were both Special and Regular Meetings of the City Commission Meeting. The Regular Meeting was temporarily paused, then there was the Special Meeting, and then the Regular Meeting resumed.