Home / Business / Commission Approves Small Resort Near Downtown Safety Harbor

Commission Approves Small Resort Near Downtown Safety Harbor

An artists rendering of the proposed resort that will be built near downtown Safety Harbor. Credit: John Mahan
An artist’s rendering of the proposed resort that will be built near downtown Safety Harbor. Credit: John Mahan

The Safety Harbor City Commission approved a conditional use permit for a parcel of land near downtown on Monday, paving the way for a small resort to be built on the site.

The two-story, 5,468-square-foot resort will be constructed on a small portion of the nearly three acres of property located at the northeast corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Philippe Parkway, adjacent to Mullet Creek.

According to property owner John Mahan, the facility will feature three vacation rental units plus a common area and will provide Safety Harbor visitors with a unique experience in a perfect location.

“This is the northern gateway to downtown,” Mahan told the Commission. “When you come into downtown, it’s the first property you see, and it’s a hidden asset.”

“We looked at the economic, the social and the environmental benefits that this certain type of use will have,” he added. “We’re looking for something that becomes a brand, or a destination point, in Safety Harbor.”

A proposed resort would be built on this parcel of land near downtown Safety Harbor.
The proposed resort would be built on this parcel of land near downtown Safety Harbor.

Mahan, who already operates a vacation rental home on the northern part of the property, explained that he bought the land in 2002 and has been working with the city for the past 13 years to clean up the site as well as get it rezoned in order to maximize its potential.

“When I bought it it was multiple lots, all residential zoned, and could have single family houses going up and down the street,” he explained. “That use did not make sense, so I worked with the city over that time to get it rezoned.”

During the quasi-judicial hearing, a number of residents who live near the site expressed concerns about fluctuating water levels in the area, especially in the wake of the recent heavy rains.

Commissioner Janet Hooper and Vice Mayor Andy Zodrow also voiced their own reservations about building on the parcel.

“I like the project, it’s just not in a really good spot,” Zodrow said. “It’s a tough site, a very small area…next to a creek.”

“Creeks move. Creeks meander…and then suddenly it becomes the city’s problem.”

John  Mahan speaks to the Safety Harbor City Commission on Monday, August 3, 2015.
John Mahan speaks to the Safety Harbor City Commission on Monday, August 3, 2015.

“It isn’t that I don’t like what you’re trying to do,” Hooper added. “I just think you’re trying to put something on a small piece of property and it’s facing the wrong way to be a gateway.”

A civil engineer hired by Mahan countered that the building would be placed three feet away from the 25-foot wetland setback and will sit well above the 100-year flood plane line, and Mahan stated he has no intention to disrupt the neighboring environment.

“Our point is to show the creek, not impact the creek,” he said.

After a lengthy discussion, the commission ultimately agreed to approve the permit, with four conditions, by a vote of 5-0.

Following the conditional use approval, the commission had to vote on the proposed site plan.

Again, concerns were raised over the location of the project, with Hooper stating she believes it will be “too close to the wetland.”

Site of the proposed resort near downtown Safetty Hatbor.
Site of the proposed resort near downtown Safety Harbor.

But Commissioner Carlos Diaz reiterated the fact that the building would be placed beyond the 25-foot wetland buffer, and after Mahan agreed to plant a dozen — instead of the required 8 — trees to replace the 3 protected ones that would have to be removed for the project, the commission voted 4-1 in favor of the plan, with Commissioner Hooper voicing the sole “nay” vote.

Afterwards, Mahan expressed his joy, and relief, over the commission’s decision.

“I’ve been working with the City on this for a long time,” he told Safety Harbor Connect. “The City has been terrific throughout this process, and I’m thrilled they approved the project tonight.”

Mahan added that he hopes to break ground on the project in November, with a tentative completion date sometime around October of 2016.

“We’re fully funded and ready to go,” he said.

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  1. This sounds about right for all the destoying going on in Safety Harbor…NOT THE QUAINT JEWEL OF A TOWN IS ONCE WAS!

  2. A resort across the street from the garbage dumpster of a convenience and the backside of a low rent apartment complex. I can imagine the surprise when someone travels across the country and wakes up to this picturesque front view.

  3. This is great! Glad to have a new spot for family to stay when they visit for the winter months! Please keep us posted when it might be opening for future reservations, thanks!

  4. I think this is a ridiculous idea, with the worst possible location being considered. Traffic is horrible during commutes to and from work already. Not to mention, there is already a resort directly across the street, which butchered a great number of trees. I find the quality of life in Safety Harbor to be just fine as it is.
    Good for Commissioner Hooper for standing her ground..

  5. Lovely idea however I feel this is the calm before the storm, I feel a protest is probably in the works since Hoop objected oh well send me a postcard if and when this project is completed, nite nite 😉

  6. Looks like John’s hard work is paying off – I wish him all the success with his project Now it will give me another place to stay when the mother-in law comes.

  7. A town like ours is like a shark in the water; move forward or die. This project suggests that we are back to moving forward. Sounds like a positive move. Good luck to the developer.

  8. This is an exciting project for Safety Harbor. It will bring more people to the downtown to enjoy all that Safety Harbor has to offer. It is great to see investment into the city!!

    The owner did a good job of engineering the site plan to minimize impacts to trees and the creek. I look forward to seeing its completion.

  9. Very exciting news! This’ll bring a better quality of life and much need improvement to Safety Harbor. Looking forward to having this project started and finished!

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