Commission approves Old Town Resort
This past Tuesday, developer Pritam Singh cleared the first bureaucratic hurdle in his quest to build a resort in Old Town Key West. The Commission voted 5-1, with Jimmy Weekley dissenting, to approve an amendment to a settlement agreement between M&I Regional Properties, LLC, Singh’s Harborside company and the City of Key West.
For nearly a decade, the 1.9 acres of scarified land at the corner of Caroline and Elizabeth streets has been in financial limbo until Singh stepped in and secured the rights to the parcel.
His plan calls for a 96-unit resort.
The property, formerly known as Jabour’s Trailerpark, once had 101 transient rights split between one, two and three bedroom units in what Singh called a “very densely used” piece of land. He has offered to donate five transient licenses to the city and 23 ROGO units.
“This is the beginning of the dance,” Singh told the commission, citing the need to get HARC Board and Planning Department consent before seeking final approval from the Commission. “What’s existing now is not a good plan for the city. “Ours is a better plan. It is better for the economy. You will get 50,000 people a year walking right into the Bight.”
Michael Knowles, a board member for the Key West Bight, championed the project saying, “For the past two years, we have had to do what we can to help our tenants through these rough economic times.”
Political activist and area business owner Richard Tallmadge pointed out, “This is the right project at the right time,” for the under-utilized piece of property.
However, residential neighbors were reluctant to support the project until the issues associated with traffic and parking were addressed.
“The first thing we need to do is get everyone from driving their cars downtown,” said Singh, who ensured the commission that his employees would not be parking their cars in residential spots around the property.
Rossi suggested the new development could lead to a parking garage constructed by joint effort between the city and Singh.
“We have to make sure we are appeasing the residents and their parking spots are not being taken away,” he said.
The commission then directed City Attorney Shawn Smith to add language that would require Singh to provide or lease parking spots from the city to accommodate his guests.
In other business:
• The Key West Commission appointed David Jackson to the Tree Commission and Thomas Mack to the Key West Civil Service Board.
• The Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition issued an update on a new lease with Family Pride that would enable 70 to 80 senior citizens to stay near their friends and “age in place” in Key West. The contract will be brought to the Commission in September.
• The Commision also approved resolutions that would close Duval Street on Friday, July 15 for the 26th Anniversary of Celebration of the Atocha discovery; July 23 for the Hemingway Days Street Fair; and August 13 for the Seafood Lobster Festival.