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Neighborhood notebook

By RON MATUS and SUSAN THURSTON
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 29, 2002


Long-term stay hotel headed to hearings

SOHO -- Backers of a plan to convert the 1301 SoHo apartments into an extended-stay Hilton hotel have scheduled two public meetings to go over the proposal with neighbors.

The first meeting is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bayshore Presbyterian Church, 2515 Bayshore Blvd. The second will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 16, also at the church.

At the first meeting developers plan to outline the proposal and discuss some of the neighbors' concerns, said Michael English, an urban planner representing the prospective buyers.

At the second meeting, English hopes to offer possible solutions and draft a revised proposal.

Long & Cox Properties of Atlanta is interested in buying the apartment complex on S Howard and turning it a Hilton with fully equipped suites for long-term stays. Some neighbors have opposed opening a hotel in a mostly residential area.

The issue was scheduled to go before the City Council on Nov. 14 but was postponed to Jan. 9 to give the developers a chance to meet with residents.

Council vote moves Gandy project forward

GANDY -- A potentially massive housing development on West Shore Boulevard has cleared another hurdle.

City Council voted unanimously Nov. 21 for a comprehensive plan amendment that paves the way for an upscale mix of houses, apartments and commercial space on 66 acres of dormant industrial land south of Gandy Boulevard.

In September, state planners objected to the proposal, worried about too much residential development in an area prone to storm surge.

But the developer, WCI Communities, promised to contribute to Hillsborough's shelter mitigation fund so residents could be helped in case of emergency.

The city is expected to give final approval Dec. 5. If state authorities are satisfied, the developer will file site plans that detail the development to come, including the number of homes.

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