■BY SUE ERWIN
A public meeting was held on Wednesday, June 13 in Rotonda to update residents on the “Village & Marina at Boca Grande” project, planned for the old Placida Fishery property.
Real estate developer Jay Feinberg bought out the previous developer and closed on the property on May 1.
He said the focal point of the proposed marina development would be a 150-room boutique hotel designated to cater to destination weddings and meetings. It will be no more than three stories tall.
Five one- and two-bedroom bungalows will be included for honeymooners and families.
A variety of outdoor and indoor public facilities will accommodate functions of all sizes. The hotel will be built around a large events lawn that sweeps down to the water’s edge of the marina. Three large trees on the east and a waterfront ballroom on the west will anchor it. The lawn could be tented for outdoor events, similar to how The Gasparilla Inn and the Boca Grande Pass Club use outdoor space.
A freestanding restaurant will be built at the northern part of the property. It will be 4,900 square feet, with an outdoor terrace.
“The second floor of this building will be the Boca Grande Bridge Center to accommodate players from Boca Grande, Cape Haze and neighboring areas,” Feinberg said. “It will be able to host regional bridge tournaments, so the locals will not need to drive to Sarasota.”
Additional amenities for the hotel will include a pool, spa and fitness room.
Also, 4,000 square feet of retail space will be provided for a hotel gift shop and other local shops.
The developers plan to keep the existing marina that has 44 boat slips and is leased with the State of Florida.
“These will be available to the public who wish to visit the hotel and restaurant, guests who bring their own boats during tarpon season, and sport fishing charters,” Feinberg said.
The dilapidated wood docks will be replaced with concrete docks. No dredging is expected.
The real estate developer brought blown-up photos of renderings of the project and passed them around to the attendees to view.
The area adjacent to the mangrove preserve will be utilized for 60 units of concierge-assisted, independent senior living for those 55 and older. These will be two- and three-bedroom units inside a gated community but will have access to all of the hotel amenities. This would include maid service, linens, food service, repairs and maintenance.
“This would be a unique housing community that doesn’t currently exist in the area for seniors who wish to downsize from a large house but still have all the services of a hotel concierge,” Feinberg said.
The developers told the architects they wanted the buildings to reflect “Old Florida.”
The site plan will respect the 35-foot height limitation over the required flood elevations, with three levels over parking. However, utilizing the under- building parking to maximize the project open space will require building heights at approximately 39 feet, over the required flood elevation, which will require a variance from Charlotte County.
Feinberg expects the permit process will take at least a year, and he hopes the total project will be completed in three years.
Public reaction to the proposed project was mixed. Some were eager to learn more details about the independent living units. Some expressed concern about the current artists who sell their work on the property, and the future of the fishermen who thrive there and rely on it for income.
Others questioned the motivation behind the project.
One woman stated it sounded like they were trying to turn Placida into “Boca Grande Light.”
Feinberg said the buildings on the property are dilapidated and literally not functioning, and the work needs to be done to make this a thriving piece of land again.
“Eventually something has to be done with this property; it’s very run down, and it’s time to improve it.”
Feinberg said that before purchasing the property, he asked several friends from Boca Grande and Cape Haze what they would like to see on the property and what the community needs.
“They expressed a need for independent and assisted living, but the site is not zoned for it. So we concluded that a boutique hotel and the senior living residences were the solution.”
The theme of the project is “Old Florida,” with the restaurant and bridge center design reminiscent of the Boca Grande Lighthouse. The concept is to create a “village” to serve the needs of the local community, while maintaining the charming character and scale of Placida and Boca Grande.
Keep reading the Boca Beacon for future updates on the development.