All eyes in Flagler Beach are riveted on the proposed re-development of an iconic acre and a third in the heart of the city, next to Veterans Park, into a 97-room resort and a row of 10 townhouses. The city’s planning board hears an application for a special exception for that project this evening. But last month, the board heard proposals for a pair of less controversial developments–a 15-room, three-story motel at South 13th Street and State Road A1A, and a three-unit, 5,000-square foot development two blocks north of Veterans Park that will accommodate two vacation rentals and a residential home.
The three developments point to a significant re-ignition of commercial activity in Flagler Beach, capitalizing on the city’s tourism economy and capturing visitors’ overnight stays that might otherwise book outside of town, or visit elsewhere. While the developments point to a bullish economic future that would help balance the city’s tax base, the spate of high-visibility proposals, dovetailing the recently-approved development of the 335-home Gardens along John Anderson Highway and the strongest year in residential-home development across the county since the Great Recession, may also be contributing to a mixture of public unease and antagonism to so much palpable change, much of it in iconic areas.
The proposed motel would be built at 1300 South Oceanshore Boulevard, a lot valued at $410,000 that last sold–to a Palm Coast resident–in 2016 for $335,000. Joseph Pozzuoli, the Flagler Beach architect and a member of both the planning board and the city’s economic development task force, is the architect on the project, which would split 12 rooms on two floors and have three handicapped-accessible ground floor rooms. The proposal notes that each unit would have just one bed. The proposal drew little discussion other than proposals by Don Deal, who chairs the planning board, for a brighter-colored building and more windows in some spots.
The proposal is one step away from a final site plan, which the planning board is hear and potentially approve at a subsequent meeting whose date has not been set.
The three-unit development at North 2nd Street–a 5,000-square-foot vacant lot at 104 N. 2nd, between North Central and North Oceanshore Boulevard–is in the downtown mixed-use (commercial and residential) zone. It would have the two vacation rentals on the first two floors and a residence on the third. According to Larry Torino the city’s planner, it would be the first building to apply “Downtown Design Guidelines,” which encourage the use of a “variety of architectural material,” a 25-to-40 percent window to wall ratio, “open and inviting facades at the lower levels,” balconies, awnings and arcades. The pine, Brazilian pepper and palm trees on the lot are expected to be removed to accommodate construction and paving in rear of the structure for parking. A porch will front the sidewalk along Oceanshore Boulevard.
Lee Richards, a project coordinator with the city, raised some questions about the proposal to Tornino. “Unless I am reading Chapter 3 incorrectly,” he asked in an email, “shouldn’t the ground floor be commercial in this district? Also in Chapters 2 and 3, the code seems to require 2 off-street parking spaces per unit. If that is so, there should be room for six vehicles. That doesn’t seem to work with this property. Please correct me if I am not reading this correctly (I can’t wait until we get the new rewrite done).”
The planning board approved the site plan in a 4-1 vote (Catherine Feind dissenting).