Dunedin approves upscale project
But the project doesn't fit the look of downtown and the increased traffic is a big concern, city commissioners say.
By MEGAN SCOTT
Published September 13, 2005
DUNEDIN - A developer's proposal for a mix of stores, office and condos downtown received a qualified okay from the City Commission.
But commissioners repeated their concerns from June when the preliminary site plan was up for approval.
They don't like the way the building looks and they are concerned about traffic.
"I think we had this discussion," Commissioner Deborah Kynes said.
"You brought us a rendering. We said, "Nah, we expected a signature piece.' So show me the money. Where is (the new) rendering?"
Richard Gehring, a principal with Prime Dunedin, the developer, showed commissioners a few conceptual drawings before they approved the final site plan Thursday night.
Kynes, who voiced most of the skepticism about the project's design, was not impressed.
"What can I say?" she said. "It doesn't set my heart on fire."
Prime Dunedin plans to replace the aging Bay Palms motel and Sun Blest Apartments at Victoria Drive and Main Street with four floors of upscale condos over 10,000 square feet of retail space.
The developers also want to restore a 1920s home on the site and use it as a recreation center.
Gehring, who partnered with Bill Kimpton and Jim Egnew on the project, told commissioners that Dunedin does not have an architectural style.
"We thought long and hard about what makes Dunedin special," Gehring said. "We would say to people: Tell us what Dunedin is. There's no consensus, except it's a state of mind.
"There's no architectural standard for us to hold up and say, "This is Dunedin,"' he concluded.
Gehring described his project, known as the Marina, as "contemporary." He said it is not going to be a trendy building. It will remain in style for 20 years.
But Kynes said contemporary does not fit in with the character of Dunedin.
"This is going to change the complexion and character of downtown," she said.
"I think there is a degree of architectural compatibility, but contemporary? There are a couple of contemporary buildings we are trying to get rid of."
Commissioners expressed concern that the Marina will turn into another Dunedin Station Square, a concrete tower under construction at Scotland Street and Douglas Avenue.
Almost everyone has complained that the four-story Dunedin Station Square building is ugly and looks nothing like the original renderings.
"I like the details here," Commissioner Dave Eggers said of the Marina project. "What I'm concerned with is what is the building going to look like in total?"
There is no requirement that a building has to look like its rendering.
But City Attorney John Hubbard said that could be a condition of the approval.
In any case, Gehring said, his group would work with the city staff on the project's appearance.
Commissioner Bob Hackworth said he was more concerned with the traffic than the aesthetics. Main Street is already over capacity, especially during rush hour.
Gehring said traffic won't be an issue.
The number of units over what is there now is only increasing by seven, and many of the empty nesters who will live in the condos won't be driving during rush hour.
He submitted a chart that showed a decline in traffic at that intersection.
Commissioners, though, were not convinced.
They approved the project based on subsequent approval of architectural design and traffic mitigation measures.
--Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4167 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified September 13, 2005, 01:45:22]
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