The empty lot next to The Temp may not be empty much longer

The empty lot next to The Temp may not be empty much longer
  1. ■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE

The landscape of downtown Boca Grande may look quite different in the future, as the Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board approved a proposal to erect a new commercial structure on Park Avenue. The lot is located next to The Temp, at 354 Park Avenue, and is owned by the McLaughlin family. They also own the building next door, the J. McLaughlin shop.

The proposal calls for a single-story, 1,500-square-foot building to be erected there. It would be a freestanding building with a garden terrace and a pergola on a portion of the front façade and additional parking for cars and golf carts. It will match the style of the buildings around it, which includes a zero-foot setback. While this normally goes against code, the Board agreed that to set it back from the road while the rest of the storefronts are also at zero-foot setback would look, as Board Member Tim Seibert said, like “a streetscape with a missing tooth.”

Lee County Principal Planner for Zoning Anthony Rodriguez said that while the current zoning does require setbacks on the street, rear and sides, part of the administrative relief process in historic preservation is to grant concessions such as in this instance.

While the Historic Preservation Board unanimously approved the plan and agreed that it met with their guidelines, the project still has several stages of approval from other departments to go through with Lee County.

In March of 2015, representatives for the applicant held a public hearing based on a proposal to put a two-story restaurant on the property. It was determined that for a multi-use building (which is the minimum requirement for a group II restaurant), the parking space requirement is the same as for retail space – one space for 350 square feet of floor space. The proposed building at that time would have required 13 additional parking spaces downtown.

No mention was made at the recent meeting as to what the applicant’s intention for the single-story building will be.

The McLaughlins also had another item on the agenda that included changes to the noncontributing home at 470 Tarpon Avenue. This proposal included changing a walk-in closet to a bathroom.

Board Member Susan Hanafee said she is the next-door neighbor to the home, and explained how the applicant worked with the neighbors to make their renovation plan work for everyone involved.

“This plan was to originally take existing property and make it into a two-story home,” she said. “We met with Mr. Fenton (a representative of the applicant), we listed our concerns, and they made changes to the plan. This all goes back to how important it is that we work with our neighbors. We came to an agreement with them about having an addition in the back that comes within two feet of our property line, but I can tell you the neighbors have signed off on these changes.”

The Board approved the project unanimously.

Other business that has been discussed at the last two back-to-back Historic Board meetings includes:

  • The Board’s approval of a proposal at the Niles residence, 1240 12th Street W., which included replacing existing windows, doors and a garage door with impact/wind resistant windows and doors; replacing the existing shingle roof with a standing seam metal roof; putting a textured masonry finish over the existing block-finish walls; replacing the existing entryeclosure with a new gabled roof entry and replacing the existing fence along Gasparilla Road with a new masonry privacy wall.

Board Chairman Paul Eddy said he knew the home well, and he believed the renovations would make “a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

The Board unanimously approved the proposal.

  • Changes at the Sackett residence, 291 Gilchrist Avenue, that include amending the elevations and site plan previously approved by the Board. Petitioner Tim Krebs said the property has been sold, and the new owners requested that a few minor alterations be included in the existing proposal. One of those changes was to change the driveway on Whiskey Row. The Board approved the proposal.
  • A proposal to approve the addition of a masonry spa to the existing pool, to resurface the existing deck area and to replace pool equipment at 580 5th Street. The Board approved the addition.
  • The reconfiguration of a paver patio project at 164 1st Street E., the Masselink residence. The applicant asked to take some of the patio out, extend another part of the patio into planting areas and to add a high wall at the rear of the patio. The Board approved the project.
  • Renovations within Fellowship Hall at the Boca Grande United Methodist Church, including the removal of a stage and a multi-purpose room to create room for better storage and a bathroom built to ADA code. The Board approved the proposal.

The next meeting of the Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board is set for November 8.