tampabay.com

Residents want dowtown-like feel

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY
Published May 12, 2007


DUNEDIN - Residents said they want an organic grocery store, a dry cleaner, rooftop dining and affordable housing to be part of the multimillion-dollar, mixed-use project planned for the Gateway tract straddling State Road 580 and Main Street.

But don't give them fast food, paint the project gold or have it look like Miami.

Three months after the city chose to negotiate with Pizzuti Solutions to develop the high-profile, city-owned parcel, the Ohio developer told the City Commission this week what it learned last month when it asked 35 residents for feedback on the project's design.

Pizzuti, which has an Orlando office, has offered $3-million for the land and pledged to spend more than $30-million to develop it into a mixed-used complex for residential, office and retail use. It hopes to begin construction in Spring 2008 and finish the project in a year.

Last month's charette - an architectural term for brainstorming sessions to tackle design problems - asked residents to discuss three elements of the project: traffic patterns, both on the site and in connection to other properties; use and mix for the site; and architecture.

The feedback made clear residents want the project to be in keeping with Dunedin's village-like feel, including wanting a design that looks as if it evolved over time and that looks like an extension of downtown.

Ideally, senior vice president Scott Hall said, he'd like to pick up parcels adjacent to the property to expand the project.

"If I had a magic wand, I'd love to completely connect the existing downtown with the Gateway project so it's seamless, " he said.

The biggest single tenant is expected to be a gourmet grocery story, occupying about 15, 000 square feet of the project, Hall said. Other retail tenants will fill 20, 000 to 25, 000 square feet.

Initially, Pizzuti anticipated building 60, 000 square feet of offices, but lowered that by a third after a market study. Hall said the market has shown tremendous demand for apartments rather than condos, but the developer has yet to commit to how many units of either it would build.

The project will also incorporate green building components, Hall said.

The next steps are to finalize the purchase and sales agreement, revise the master plan and finalize the development agreement.

Hall said he hopes the partnership between the city and Pizzuti doesn't end at the Gateway project. He said the company is considering other projects but wouldn't identify them. Gateway is the priority, he said.

"We're long-term focused, " he said.

Fast Facts:

Dunedin wants

Asked by developers what they'd like the Gateway project to look and feel like, 35 residents weighed in last month. Their requests:

Use and mix

- No fast food

- Bring in a pharmacy, coffee shop, bakery, real estate office

- Affordable condos or apartments

- Roof-top dining on top of the grocery store

- Bring in tenants with an advertising budget

Architecture

- Use awnings and wrought iron metal

- Mix architectural styles so the project looks like it evolved over time

- Avoid Miami and Mediterranean looks

Site circulation and connectivity

- Allow for special events

- Brick paving

- Make the project an extension of downtown

- Slow down traffic on Main Street and Skinner

- Safely connect across Main Street to Mease Manor, a retirement community, and the Mease Dunedin Hospital

Source: Pizzuti Solutions