November 27, 2021

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Just Do Travel

Plans for an Eight-Story Siesta Key Hotel Move Forward

3 min read



More than 50 public speakers attended the Sarasota County Commissioners meeting yesterday to voice their opinions about a density and height limit change that would pave the way for an eight-story hotel on Siesta Key.

Despite the overwhelming opposition by those who spoke, commissioners voted to green light the change, making possible Robert Anderson’s proposed 170-room, eight-story hotel on just under an acre of land near Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites on Calle Miramar. The project also includes a three-level, 223-space parking garage, a restaurant and a rooftop pool and bar. Traffic is proposed to come and go along Calle Miramar. The project’s architect is Sarasota-based Mark Sultana of DSDG Architecture.

Under the previous code, the height restriction was 35 feet, and transient accommodations were limited to 26 rooms per acre. This project has been OK’d for almost seven times that density and more than twice the height, at 80 feet high.

Many speakers, even those who opposed the amendment, agreed that newer accommodations are needed in one of the country’s top-rated beach destinations, but expressed concern over traffic congestion, safety in case of potential evacuation, impact on infrastructure and general quality of life for residents, especially for those living adjacent to the site. Protecting the small-town charm and character of Siesta Key was also a point of concern.

Many speakers opposed changes to the existing Unified Development Code.

Steve Cavanaugh, chair of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, business owner and realtor, was not alone when he questioned changes to the code. “We’re in favor of boutique hotels, but not a change to the UDC text amendment,” he said.

Those who were in favor argued that the addition of parking spaces the projects would bring are much needed. They also said Siesta Key guests often have to stay on the mainland, since accommodations on the barrier island are lacking. 

“Siesta Key is underserved, and could use another hotel or three,” said Clayton Thompson, owner of Clayton’s Siesta Grille.

Siesta Key currently has one 55-room hotel. The proposed project will be among the barrier island’s first hotel developments in more than 50 years.

Commissioners Nancy Detert and Christian Ziegler opposed the amendment. Commissioners Alan Maio, Ron Cutsinger and Michael Moran were in favor.

While the UDC amendment to increase height and density applies countywide, it will still require an applicant to go through the Special Exception process to examine compatibility issues that may need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

During the commission’s vote, Detert highlighted that three other hotels were on the heels of this one. Indeed, Anderson’s is one of four hotels being proposed for the island: two in Siesta Key Village, including his; one at the Wells Fargo site; and one near the south bridge.

Similar to Anderson’s request, the other proposals also seek increases in height and density. The prospective developments range from 100- to 170-room projects. Two, including Anderson’s, reach eight stories and 8o feet.

The three other hotel developments are proposed by Dave Balot, Mike Holderness and Gary Kompothecras.

At 5810 Midnight Pass Road, Balot wants to build a five-story, 100-room hotel on a 2.15-acre parcel where Wells Fargo once stood. The bottom two levels would be for parking and the project would include a restaurant and bar.

Holderness’ plan is a remodel of Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites at 215 Calle Miramar and 5311 Ocean Blvd. It would turn the current 55-room hotel, situated on a little more than an acre, into a 170-room hotel with two bottom floors for parking.

Kompothecras’ plan proposes a seven-story, 120-room hotel on Old Stickney Point Road and Peacock Road on a little over one acre. This project includes a separate five-story parking garage.

Combined, the four proposals would see the addition of 560 hotel rooms on Siesta Key.

Another Sarasota County Commission meeting is scheduled Nov. 2 to determine height and density changes for Kompothecras’ project.

In response, residents have banded together to push for the formation of their own town, in hopes of protecting Siesta Key from big development.