Founder’s ‘Ask Gary’ Hotel in Siesta Key Gets Sarasota County Approval

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Controversial hotel development at the southern end of Siesta Key received approval from Sarasota County Commissioners on Tuesday, paving the way for the Barrier Island’s second major hotel project.

Commissioners approved special exceptions that would transform two existing plots of land along Old Stickney Point Road into a new seven-story luxury hotel and five-story parking lot.

The 83-foot, 120-room hotel will be located on a plot in the southwest corner of Old Stickney Point and Peacock Roads. The parking lot will be on the site of a former Bank of America branch between Stickney Point and Old Stickney Point roads.

Both proposals received 4-1 approval from the County Commission. Commissioner Nancy Detert was the only dissenting voice.

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The developer is Gary Kompothecras, also known as “Dr. Gary”. Kompothecras has gained local fame for its legal department 1-800-ASK-GARY, owned by the nearby Crescent Club bar and perhaps most notoriously for the pitch and executive production of the MTV reality series. “Key to the nap”.

He and his family live in Siesta Key and have been looking for years to develop a hotel in the area.

According to the presentation, the hotel structure would reach 71-73 feet in height. But the “wedding cake” style tiered roof design, created in the style of the Sarasota School of Architecture, would bring the highest point to 83 feet.

Hotel traffic will enter via Old Stickney Point Road; guests will climb an elevated ramp to the main entrance and staff will provide valet parking for each vehicle, said Bo Medred, a planner working for Kompothecras.

The 203-space parking garage will have 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Around 74 spaces will be for the hotel, 28 will be for ground-floor retail and 101 for the general public. It is accessed by taking a left from Stickney Point Road and is six and a half feet from Old Stickney Point Road and eight feet from Stickney Point, with a right-only exit on Key.

The hotel will also ensure the treatment of storm water in a vaulted system where it will be treated. Now, the storm water from this site is discharging freely into the bay.

Although several members of the public expressed support for the project during a long period of public comment, most speakers said they disapproved, including several members of the Siesta Key Coalition.

An aerial rendering of the proposed new Siesta Key hotel, looking west.

Major concerns of Siesta Key hotel development

The main concerns raised were traffic and congestion, noise and public safety. Several residents of neighboring Marina Del Sol condominiums, directly east of Peacock Road, said they feared increased traffic on Old Stickney Point Road would mean they would be trapped in their homes. Traffic to Siesta Key during the season is bad enough, many said.

“I am very concerned about the dangers to pedestrians and what would result,” said Julie Wright Halbert, resident and lawyer of Marina Del Sol.

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Susan Schoettle, a lawyer from Sarasota, said that in special use cases, the claimant must prove that they will promote public safety and well-being.

“It is the duty of the claimant to prove it, to document it, to demonstrate it. I think in this case the claimant failed,” said Schoettle. “A special exception is by definition not meant to be where they ask it to be put. They have not demonstrated that they have not caused harm or will not cause harm. They have not demonstrated that they have caused harm or will not cause harm. ‘they are in line with the overall plan. ”

Commissioner Mike Moran brought forward a motion approving both provisions. He said having a luxury hotel on Siesta Key made sense.

“People who live in unincorporated parts of Sarasota County year round have family, friends and business associates who come to visit us, and frankly some of them are surprised and even shocked. that the country’s number one beach doesn’t have a luxury hotel, ”Moran says.

Detert said her “no” vote came because she had a problem with the politics surrounding the proposal.

“I think when we sit here and let the lawyers and the petitioners write our rules, we have abdicated our responsibilities and our duties,” she said.

Commissioners Ron Cutsinger and Christian Ziegler both stressed that special exemptions are considered individually, which means they will not set a precedent for future proposals.

“It’s not a rezone,” Cutsinger said. “They are zoned commercial, and I think we would expect something commercial to be happening on this very valuable property in Siesta Key.”

He said he believes the hotel will have a positive impact on traffic near the south bridge towards Siesta, as people will have a place to park their cars. Public transport will also be an option, he said.

The approval for the South Siesta Key hotel comes just a week after county commissioners voted to remove the cap on the number of hotel rooms allowed on a property, paving the way for several new developments.

Siesta Key hotels were previously limited to 26 rooms per acre. But now, instead of a hard cap, planners will focus on whether a project meets building requirements, such as height restrictions and setbacks from neighboring properties.

An eight-story, 170-room hotel at Calle Miramar and Beach Road, with a restaurant and rooftop bar, is also moving forward.

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