If there is opposition to a hotel rising again in the heart of Flagler Beach, in the same place where one stood for 50 years until 1972, not a peep of it was heard Tuesday evening ahead of the Flagler Beach Planning Board’s unanimous vote recommending that emerging project.
The board unanimously recommended approving a special exception and site plan for a 97-room higher-end hotel and 10 town houses in the 1.3-acre block at Central Avenue and State Road 100, adjacent to Veterans Park, the site that had been home to the farmers’ market for 30 years.
One person’s name was invoked repeatedly as the reason the project is trusted and free of the customary taint of opposition that attaches to major developments in iconic locations: Zoee Forehand, who owns the land with her husband and whose family has been associated with Flagler Beach’s welfare and identity for decades.
“If Zoee was not behind this project I would be a lot more skeptical,” John Lulgjuraj, the co-owner of Oceanside restaurant–and a member of the Tourist Development Council told the planning board. “I’m excited tonight that there isn’t so much negativity.”
He was underselling: there was none. The response from a dozen or so people who addressed the board was far more supportive than might have been expected, based on the public response at large–in social media’s more strident channels or in the nearly 100 comments Monday’s FlaglerLive article revealing the proposal–would suggest. “This is without question the passionate item of the evening,” Larry Torino, the city’s planner, said as he introduced the item to the board, perhaps anticipating the parade of opposition that never materialized.
Whether because of covid, because the meeting was made available live on YouTube, or because the opposition is hanging fire, the commission chamber at City Hall where the board met this evening totaled no more than 50 people, including several city commissioners. The city commission hears the hotel’s application on Dec. 10.
“This is the right person and the right team at the right time,” one speaker and local business owner said of Zoee Forehand. “There isn’t anyone else I would trust to ensure the integrity of this project is kept local.”
Forehand did not reveal who would manage the hotel: confidential conversations are ongoing, she said, suggesting that none has been secured yet. (A city official told FlaglerLive that the Hilton was one consideration.) When a planning board member pressed her on her future involvement, she half-demurred. “That’s still to be determined,” she said, but she’d “help mold it and make sure it goes forward.” But she said the hotel, when built, “is supposed to be communal,” rather than an exclusive place that caters to its guests while shunning neighbors.
“This is exactly what this city needs, not that Flagler Beach needs anything, but I really think this is the type of project that needs to happen in this town,” a commercial property owner and Flagler Beach resident said.
Amy Lukasik, the executive director of the county’s tourism office, applauded Forehand’s approach, noting her attention to detail to such a point that Forehand is insisting on a type of environmentally appropriate soap to be used in the hotel rooms. That’s the kind of attention needed to the project, Lukasik said, before making her broader point: “Tourism imports taxpayers,” she said, lending her support to the project.
There were some concerns with making Central Avenue one way, questions about the height of the structure (at 35 feet, the height meets city code, plus a 42-inch elevator feature). But neither members of the public nor members of the planning board delved too deeply into the project’s details, though some raised a few significant concerns. Roseanne Stocker, one of the board members, wanted to ensure that the hotel property would not infringe on the “public nature of our beach”–that the customary public use of that beach would be preserved as is, and that the eventual hotel management would not charge for parking on its grounds, as hotels often do. But there is, in fact, a proposal afoot to make a portion of the beach private.
“It really is a well-crafted and planned out plan,” Pozzuoli, the architect-board member, said. He was a bit skeptical about redesigning Veterans Park for water storage. “I love it, I think the elements are good, the one concern I have is the event room is on the smaller side,” he said, which would hold a wedding party of 80, while the original hotel had a larger ballroom. He wished for an event room double that size. He also suggested that the architecture might not match that of Flagler Beach exactly, and that a workshop might be needed to look at the drawings.
Several of those issues will be discussed and negotiated before the items move on to the city commission.
The project’s architect, Joseph Pasquale, its general contractor, Brian Walsh (who has a home in Flagler Beach and is a former classmate of Pasquale and Flagler Beach architect Joseph Pozzuoli, a member of the planning board) and Forehand had pre-empted some of the questions with their own presentations.
Forehand has owned Z-wave Surf Shop in Flagler Beach for 33 years, grew up in town, the daughter of parents who owned a real estate business, of a mother who started the Flagler Beach Chamber of Commerce and presided over it, as would Zoee, and who spoke of her protectiveness of Flagler Beach. “This fits into the fabric of our seaside town,” she said of the proposed hotel, evoking the memory of its antecedent, in whose ballroom high school proms and marriages used to be celebrated. The city commission in 1973 had approved plans for a five-story building there, Forehand said. It never happened.
So for 30 years, Forehand’s family managed the Farmers’ Market, “knowing one day we would potentially resurrect this iconic structure.” Then came hurricanes Matthew and Irma, upending the region’s tourism, its beaches, the Farmes’ Market. It was time to revive the idea of a hotel, an idea in the works over the past four years. “We didn’t come into this lightly, and we want to impress that on everyone,” Forehand said.
There’s also no question that for those who have lived in town or even in the county for a couple of decades, the revival of a hotel at the center of town is not news so much as deferred.
In early February 2003 the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council hosted a week-long “charrette,” or planning session, to reimagine the future of State Road A1A and Flagler Beach. The public was invited to take part for a day in a session held at Santa Maria del Mar church. “This is your show, your opportunity to tell us what it is that you want,” Mike Busha, the planning council’s director told the assembled residents. “You need to let us know what it is you want to protect and preserve.” The result was an 82-page document crafted with the input of some 150 people–the public and of a who’s who in local development, government and preservation, along with three design teams.
A central theme of the charrette “promotes unity and preserves the character of Flagler Beach and the A1A Corridor.” One of the proposals it put forth was a hotel next to Veterans Park, returning the property to its former uses. The Charrette was even more specific: “Two to three-story mixed-use buildings, or a two to three-story hotel should line the sides of the western remaining block where the old Flagler Beach hotel used to be.”
A hotel is permitted by special exception at that location if it’s recommended by the planning board and approved by the city commission. The town houses are “permitted by right,” and do not require special-exception approval. So this evening’s hearing was about whether a hotel “use” should be granted, and whether that site plan application would be recommended. “I never really understood why this should be a special exception,” Don Deal, chairman of the planning board, said, referring to the 2003 document and its direct references to a desired hotel.
Torino, the planning director, also referred to the charrette and the 2006 downtown master plan, which foresaw implementing just such a project in the years to come. “And the years to come, here it is, seventeen or 18 years later.”
“If this moves forward it will be the crown jewel of our downtown area,” Deal said, moments before the 7-0 vote that came at the end of a hearing that lasted just short of two and a half hours, including consideration of an unrelated item.
Old Sea Dog says
2045 will see the Sea Level 15ft higher then it is now. Each spring, summer and fall are now 12 degrees hotter then 20 years ago. The heat is only going to get worse. Yes, millions more people will be moving to Florida in the coming years………. I enjoyed Flagler Beach for 35 years and now its time to move to cooler pastures. House is up for sale now while the housing market is excellent for selling homes. Farewell old friend and Thanks for the memories .
Wild Bill says
Flagler Beach Native says
Maybe this will lead to a major facelift to the old ugly looking strip center across the street and the one behind Finns. Both are major eye sores and give a bad impression when entering FB from 100.
3ed gen flagler native here, if you didn’t see this conning you have been confused for a while. This area has been expecting change now when it comes it’s a shock!?
If you want land and privacy live in the country, it less than 30 mins from the beach and a lot cheaper.
Ocean front property is not made for farmers markets unfortunately. We were all lucky to share the FREE experiences we had at the park. Now you will have to pay to play!
Dennis Rathsam says
So sad, I feel sorry for the folks who live in Flagler Beach. The infighting over the ocean,& trying to fix the dunes, shows a lack of leadership! The truth of it is, sooner or later the ocean is gonna be on the road thier trying to fix. All the houses along the ocean will be history. That new hotel wont servive the flooding…Flagler Beach is doomed, Water, Water, everywhere… Why,because nobody looks into the future, All the quick fixes, have failed. The Atlantic ocean is comming, and Flagler Beach, will be no more.
Don’t feel sad for us . Be happy for us. We are finally getting a bit more upscale for visitors. Low rent transients may become a thing of the past if this type of investment continues. All my neighbors love it. As far as the eventual flood? Nobody I know that owns property is concerned. Aside from being Chicken Little do you have any other suggestions for FB?
climate change is REAL.
the oceans are rising.
my west side of A1A property will eventually be oceanfront.
John Stove says
Some development in a dying beach town……
“If you build it, they will come”…..tourists (with $$$) shopping and spending locally, increasing sales tax to the city to fund other improvement projects and just all around pulling this town into a more “destination” rather than a “lets go have a drink or food and then go home”.
Cant tell you how many friends have wanted to stay close to the beach but couldn’t because their is no hotel so they went to other beachside towns.
E. Hoffa says
‘Progress’ marching ???
FB Resident says
Looks great. Adding a little class to FB.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Ha! You believe it’s actually going to look like that artist’s rendering? I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you.
Bob U says
The only problem I can see is, and I quote “ But there is, in fact, a proposal afoot to make a portion of the beach private. “ That’s just helps the hotel make money and Is no benefit for the public. It takes Part of the beach away from the public.
Robert Morgan says
That’ll never happen. The state owns the beach from mean high tide to the water . It was taken to the Supreme Court in 1976 I believe and the supreme court’s sided with the state . Only beachfront home owners own to wet sand not the whole beach
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Why should it be surprising that there was no public opposition? No one knew about it! I’m supposed to receive notices about commissioners meetings, and I certainly never heard anything about last Tuesday’s meeting. This is infuriating. The vote was 7-0. Does anyone, even one person, on the commission think ahead and consider the ramifications when terrible decisions like this one are made? Obviously not. This blatant money grab will not benefit FB residents one bit, but it will enrich those who sold us out. I’m glad I lived in FB when it was special. Take pictures, folks. Someday those views will only be available to view on nostalgic postcards.
Just to clarify: this was a meeting of the Planning and Architectural Review Board, not the city commission. The commission hears the matter at its Dec. 10 meeting.
Wendy Atwell says
I live out or state. Will this meeting be available online? I love this area and so not want to see this happen. I’m willing to help.
The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, in the Flagler Beach City Hall Commission Chambers, and will be available live here.
Wendy Atwell says
What time is the meeting and where is it held? Thanks
Jim in PC says
You NIMBYs are nuts. You have to diversify the tax base and increase revenue; this is the best chance to do so in a long while. When else will you have a local, environmentally conscious owner intending to preserve the charm of Flagler Beach? It’s not a Holiday Inn Express bulldozing the Funky Pelican. Come on.
And yes, with sea rise mother ocean may reclaim what is rightfully hers. That will be the new owner’s problem to sort out with their insurance adjusters, and maybe then we can turn it into a park.
For every comment on the initial story, and those who are vehemently against it on Facebook. What stands out is “not a peep was heard”.
I’m glad everyone stands up for their beliefs when it’s convenient for them, inside of their own home, behind their computer monitor… Seriously. The change doesn’t really affect me at all, I have a wait-and-see attitude. BUT for everyone who groans about “HOW COULD WE LET THIS HAPPEN”.
Because you were too -actually- care.
Wendy Atwell says
This is the first time I’ve heard of it. I’m willing to do whatever to avoid this from happening. I live out of state but am ther 3 or 4 months a year.
It’s like putting a gem in the middle of a dump !!!!!
Paul Harrington says
For the 17 years we have been here we heard about how tourism brings tax dollars to Flagler Beach. In reality it doesn’t. Last September we identified over $1,000,000 in tourist related expenses to Flagler Beach taxpayers. On the other hand we could only verify a few hundred thousand in earmarked tax revenues.
Amy Lucasek told us at the meeting those tax dollars pay for marketing, the Dodge The Dunes Campaign, 4th of July Fireworks, pier improvements & repairs and backing for the beach renourishment bond. This spending does not offset taxpayer expenses. Add to the tourist expense FB taxpayers chip in more than $500,000 to support the pier.
The hotel is a great idea for Flagler Beach but it will pose a large mass as you cross the bridge. The highest points, 45′ at S Central Avenue are twice to four times the height of surrounding buildings. What can be done to alleviate this sight line?
The parking garage is a great idea. New projects need to bring parking and transportation solution to the design table. The proposal request 26 parking spaces from the on street parking pool. These are no charge to the business owner. Somebody will have to pick up the tab. A large traffic flow to this project is going traverse S Central Avenue, S 2nd Street to the garage entrance on S Daytona Street. This is going to disrupt the southside residents accessibility.
Many people did not know a thing about the proposed hotel until last Sunday, the conclusion to Thanksgiving weekend. Those who showed up to speak in favor were staged and rehearsed. Most people saw it coming and probably didn’t have time to attend or knew what to say. This, like funding for the fire truck kept under wraps until the 11th hour and coordination with swale project caused problems.
There should be no surprise that people are upset or confused. We have a lot of hardworking public employees and taxpayer residents here. We need to treat both better.
Parking in Flagler Beach is already a disaster, 92 rooms, plus staff, a dozen rental townhouses, a 80 person meeting room equates to a need for 200 parking spaces, anything less will cause Flagler to really become a daily nightmare!
Don’t you know, FB has never cared about people needing to park. Wait till business stop allowing parking that is NON Their business. That’s when things get real. FB is hoping people start using the “County Parks” . And as Storms continue to remove beach dunes, more NO parking signs will go up at the beach side pull offs. So much fun.
Having attended 30 or so First Fridays, I remember what a nightmare it was to find somewhere to park the couple of times the lot in question was not open to parking. I am more then happy to pay 2 or 3 bucks to have a safe parking spot adjacent to Veteran’s Park. One time I damn near had to park halfway to Ormond by the sea and trudge back with folding chairs and coolers and vowed never again. FB has a major parking/ traffic control problem, I stopped going there for 4th celebrations 2 years ago, as the hassle wasn’t worth the abbreviated fireworks show, viewed from 2 miles away; closest spot I could get arriving several hours early. Hard to believe this could be allowed without any prayer of finding adequate parking solutions for staff and guests.
I’m not saying Yea and I’m not saying Nay. Not my place as I’m not a FB resident.
I WOULD like to suggest however that some of you go spend some time at the FB Museum, or check out some books at the library regarding Flagler Beach history. If you go back through the years, you’ll find that FB has done the growing/shrinking building size routine a couple time. FB’s greatest attraction in the 1st half of the 20th century was the huge hotel/ballroom dead in the center of town where several of the national celebrities of the time would stay or party.
So, it’s not like taking original, native land and developing on it.
I AM curious as to how they plan to pull off the underground garage? Wasn’t there an open-air sulfur water swimming pool just a couple blocks north of there (where the Post office is now) many many moons ago?
Clearly the people that think this is a great idea are being mislead as is Palm coast. fFBch has always been a quaint and timeless place. Why ruin it with that monstrosity of a building? Zoe is now a sell out.
Wendy Atwell says
I’ve been coming to this area for over 20 years. Several times a year. I love this beach community. It breaks my heart that this area will be taken over by concrete and glass. It is a perfect location for the farmer’s market, First Friday events, Holiday celebrations. .ight as well stop having the Fourth of July Fireworks and parades, etc… If the owner doesn’t want it, the community should take it over for the festivals and celebrations. The view of the beach as you drive over the bridge will be destroyed. That is my favorite part of going to Flagler Beach. I think the owner is selling out. I don’t like it at all. There needs to be more community input before a structure like this is built in that area. I am willing to do what ever I need to prevent this from happening. Are you trying to compete with Daytona Beach? I don’t go there because I love the feel of the old beach town. My heart hurts for my Flagler Beach.
These comments are Hysterical. Buy the property yourselves and pay for the upkeep oh and make sure to give the town the taxes they expect from this project! If you had a land worth over $1 million would you just give it to a community for “events” lmao get out of here With that nonsense.
What do you bet they’ll give the developer a TIF and there will be NO taxes coming to FB. Add that to the drain on the water and sewage and electricity added to the new city on John Anderson. I’m not seeing the benefit here.
Michael Pettay says
Sorry folks, but I too have to express opposition to the proposed new hotel complex. While the local community may be unable to prevent this new development, that in itself will be detrimental to the area. Having space in the center of town for the Farmer’s Market, art and craft festivals, First Friday events, and such, is part of the old Florida charm of Flagler Beach. My wife and I have visited FB every year, for twenty years now, in part for respite from the breakneck expansion of development over on our coast, near St. Petersburg. We’ve seen what happens when out of area “resort” interests are allowed to get a foot through the door in formerly charming and peaceful communities. Google pictures of Clearwater Beach and you’ll see what I mean! Sadly, we are now having to rethink our retirement plans. Hopefully, now that the cat is apparently out of the bag, more folks, local and otherwise, will take an interest in the City Commission meeting on the 10th.
This property is well thought out and does not affect Veteran’s Park. Actually, the project includes updating the park to accommodate the crowds for First Friday and Art festivals. I live in Flagler Beach and am looking forward to having a place for my family and friends to stay when they visit. This is a beautiful plan, keeping FB architecture and colors in mind. The new motel will have a ripple down effect to improve pride of ownership with all surrounding properties and help ease the tax burden on residential properties.
I Just Love Flagler Beach says
I’m not opposed to a hotel on this lot, although I would prefer the old Farmers Market. But, I think it should be a project that fits entirely on the lot and does not impact the surrounding streets and current public parking. Also, the owner also owns the parcel that is on the east side of A1A. I’m concerned about what future plans a new owner might have for that parcel, like a deck a block long on the beach for hotel patrons only? That parcel should be transferred to the City to ensure the integrity of our public beach.
How deep do you really think that an underground garage can be built before it becomes a sulfur laden water logged cesspool. ROTFLMFAO
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
You may be very sure that the developers knew all along that they couldn’t build an underground parking lot. They just used that ploy to get an approval. After the first few steamshovels have come in and torn up the lot, they’ll plead ignorance and ask for a variance for street or rooftop parking. BOZO commissioners. They fell for it, and Flagler Beach will pay the price with a big commercial eyesore in the heart of town, and as “wow” said, the idea that the owners of the hotel will ever pay any taxes to benefit the city whose center they stole is just laughable.
Robert Neill says
It appears that the majority of those moaning about it are not even Beach residents.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
How would you know that, Robert Neill? My math does not indicate that the majority of those who are “moaning about it” are non-residents. There are plenty of us — and yes, I am a FB taxpaying resident — who see right through this rotten scheme. Our commissioners have been mesmerized by a glittering object: namely, the prospect of a big tax influx from the big giveaway of irreplaceable green space. In actuality, development/investment consortiums set up sophisticated tax rat holes. FB will see very little of it, but there will be a significantly negative impact on our roads, waterways (sewage), crime rate, and unique lifestyle.
Robert Neill says
Maam, your calculator batteries need a recharge. I have talked to dozens of residents here and the most common reply is that FB needs a serious face lift. How do YOU know what the negative impacts will be?
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
My calculator batteries are just fine. It doesn’t take a calculator to figure out that the majority of those commenting on this story ARE Flagler Beach residents. As for knowing what the negative impacts of such a hotel in that location would be, all you have to do is look at Daytona Beach. That’s the end game. But more to the point, 1. having experienced flooding firsthand on the island, 2. knowing what our traffic is like now WITHOUT a hotel, and 3. knowing for sure that they cannot dig down far enough to create underground parking, would be a few of the ways I know what the negative impacts would be. Why do you think houses in FB don’t have basements?
We are Flagler Beach Residents.
Sometime ago I read a thesis written about our barrier island. It is very fragile and we are flooding. Climate change and water levels are causing our homes and streets to flood like never before. Please consider this. As home owners we must hold water and parking on our property. We also must abide by the height ordinance. This project should do the same. Underground parking? Has this been done on a barrier island that already floods? Everyday concern is the impact on traffic and parking. The citizens of Flagler Beach have not had it easy. These issues need to be improved not made worse. This development project should abide by current building requirements.
Wendy Atwell says
There is a meeting December 10th at 530pm.
It isn’t a done deal yet. Please attend the meeting. It is online too. https://www.cityofflaglerbeach.com/140/City-Commission
Will attend online due to COVID-19.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
It’s really good that this meeting will be online. Wendy, do you know if there will be a way for online attendees to comment during the meeting at the appropriate time?
Wendy Atwell says
I’m not sure. It might say on their website.
mark mirliani says
Daytona, Ormond and St Augustine are right down the road. We can go there then retreat back to Flagler. The reason we moved here and not to those towns was it was it was a Florida coastal town that was still simple and quiet. If this goes through we’ll all be lamenting the way it was. Once we go in this direction, we can never go back.