The Clearwater, Fla., City Council appears to favor granting a zoning exception to property owner Savelle Clearwater Countryside LLC that would allow self-storage to be developed on the site of a former Denny’s restaurant. The move is controversial because the property at 26489 U.S. Route 19 is within a section of the city zoned for high-wage employment and transit-supported uses like offices, restaurants and retail. The council voted 3-2 on Oct. 18 to give its initial approval and is expected to take a final vote on amending the community-development code for the .75-acre site on Thursday.
Savelle is under contract to sell the property to Broome Capital LLC, pending project approval by the city. Broome intends to build 85,000 square feet of storage in 800 units. The developer has also pledged to include 3,200 square feet of retail space along the front of the storage building, a source reported.
The council’s support contradicts the recommendation of city staff and runs contrary to the municipality’s U.S. 19 development plan. The U.S. 19 corridor is divided into three sub-districts, covering seven miles, though Savelle’s request applies only to small parcels .75 acres to .9 acres in size, which essentially covers the Denny’s site and one nearby restaurant, according to sources.
“The idea we would somehow consider 3,200 square feet of a coffee shop or retail having some economic viability consistent with what our goals for U.S. 19 are just can’t be taken seriously,” said Michael Delk, planning and development director.
The council could grant the special exception in part because Savelle has been unsuccessful in finding another business use to redevelop the property, which has been vacant since 2015. Though 43 businesses have looked at the site, it’s landlocked with a Dick’s Sporting Goods to the rear and is difficult to access. Drivers must exit the highway on a frontage road before the site is visible, according to Brian Aungst Jr., an attorney representing Savelle.
“Objectively, what we’re proposing is better than what’s there,” Aungst told the community development board last month. “What’s there is almost impossible to get rid of under the current plan based on the site dynamics.”
Councilmember Hoyt Hamilton is among those in favor of the plan. “I know the property owner has made efforts to put something there, but he hasn’t been able to entice anybody,” Hamilton said. “This is the best option that’s come forward.”
The situation is reminiscent to the council’s support of a Budget Self Storage project from StorCon Development LLC in April. In that instance, the council ignored a denial recommendation to approve a zoning change for a 76,000-square-foot storage facility on Duncan Avenue.
Based in Tampa, Broome Capital pursues urban-infill development of luxury townhomes, single-family rentals and self-storage. Its family of companies includes Icon Residential, Proluxe Properties and Storage City.
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