Developer fields questions about proposed mixed-use complex in downtown Safety Harbor
Joe Faw knows what he’s up against in trying to build a mixed-use development in downtown Safety Harbor.
As he noted during a public meeting held at the museum on Tuesday, there hasn’t been a new building constructed on Main Street in more than a decade, and when the Harbour Pointe complex was built at 100 Main Street, there were many vocal opponents of that project.
But when the Safety Harbor resident and co-owner of local development company Bay to Bay Properties decided he needed a new headquarters for his rapidly growing firm, he was thrilled to learn the City was looking to boost the stagnant downtown economy and there was a suitable piece of property available.
“I had looked at this property in the past, as well as others recently at Rocky Point and on Gulf to Bay (Boulevard),” Faw told an audience of 50 that gathered at the museum.
“But when we learned this property was available again, it presented the opportunity for us to stay here in town.”
Faw then went on to describe the parameters of his project, which calls for two buildings to be constructed on the one-acre parcel at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue North: one commercial unit roughly 22,000 square feet facing Main Street that would house the B2B offices on the top two floors with 6,600 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and another residential structure in the rear that would feature up to 24 luxury apartments.
He explained the complex would utilize a West Indies architectural style, with open spaces, pop-out features and wide patios, and would be set back from the street more than City code calls for. He said there would be 30 on-site parking spaces as well as an additional 30 street spots that would be available for public use.
Faw also noted the buildings would be lower in height than the code allows, with the commercial structure coming in at 40-feet high and the residential building 35 feet.
“Both buildings would be lower in height than what’s allowed by code,” Faw said, adding they didn’t want the buildings to “look like a skyscraper” or loom over the residential homes at the rear of the property on Second Street North.
After the introductory comments, Faw fielded questions from the audience, which ranged from ridiculous (will there be a pool?) to pointed.
“You had said there would be shops, or retail, for a period of time, and your reasoning behind that is so downtown would be vibrant and walkable, et cetera,” Safety Harbor resident Jennifer Michael said. “But you left an opening there that after a period of time, it’s open up to office buildings. So, my first question is, how many square feet will Bay to Bay have…and secondly, what are the conditions moving it from retail to office space?”
Faw replied that according to the terms of the development agreement that are being discussed with City officials, they decided to leave a window open for restaurant or retail businesses to inhabit the space without fear it will be home to another lawyer, doctor or insurance office in the heart of Main Street.
“In the development agreement, there’s concessions being made by both parties,” he said. “There’s a limited amount of professional office on the first floor, and that would be for a period of no less than five years, and I believe the City and the commission’s intention on that is to encourage something other than office even though that is considered a commercial use.”
When Michael, who also said the renderings of the project “look like something you would see on the side of a highway in Orlando like a strip mall,” pressed the developer about what could happen after five years, Faw conceded “I guess you could say that the entire thing could be office…but we want something more than office down there.”
But it could be?” Michael shot back.
“Yes,” Faw said.
Other comments were predominantly supportive.
Sue Caisse said she “thoroughly endorsed this project” and Brigitte Davey stated, “I think it’s a great idea to get rid of that crummy corner of Main Street,” a remark that drew hearty applause.
When Mick Elliot asked why they chose not to build the project out to its maximum capabilities, Faw had a response that is sure to please even the staunchest anti-development advocates.
“We could probably do a lot better financially if we did do it that way,” he said. “But our intention is to try and do something that we think would be well received and compatible.
“I’m not sure if that would be exactly what we think would be the right fit, but to your point we would be allowed to do it. We’re trying to do something in the middle and have a balanced approach towards this.”
As the one-hour meeting wrapped up, Faw said the next step is to bring the site plan to the City for review on Friday, with an eye towards presenting their plan to the Planning and Zoning Board in November followed by a public meeting before the City Commission in December.
Faw said if all goes well they could begin construction on the project in the late first quarter or early second quarter of next year, and he anticipated a 10-12 month build time for the structures, not including the retail space layout.
Afterwards, Faw told Safety Harbor Connect how he felt the meeting went.
“I think it went well,” he said. “I thought it was well received. I appreciate all the comments, and I was pleased with the respect and professionalism.”
He also stated he believes having an open dialog with residents is key to getting a project like this off the ground in town.
“We’re aware that one-hundred percent of the people are not going to agree with one-hundred percent of the plan. But I think it’s important to have healthy discussions,” he said.
“We’re trying to do everything in the best interests of the community.”
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- Public meeting Tuesday to discuss proposed mixed-use development in DTSH
- Mixed-use development proposed for vacant lot in downtown Safety Harbor
- Commission wrestles with ways to boost economic development in Downtown Safety Harbor
The biggest problem I have is that these living spaces are “apartments”. The term luxury apartments is an oxymoron. We don’t need renters. We need owner/residents. Is there an opening that the living spaces could be condominiums or townhouses?
A note for naysayers most concerned about parking, While on Main Street today, Saturday afternoon, I counted 61 open parking spots directly on Main Street. That does not point to a parking problem. There may be busy times when parking is more scarce, but we do not have a problem if those times are only once a week or once a month.
“I wish the City and Mr. Ayoub the best, and I hope he means to follow through on all the things he said he’d do during the campaign,” Hooper said.
The ONLY downside of the Bay To Bay project that I can see is it will be such an attractive addition to downtown, it will magnify our eyesores like the old Captain’s Pizza building and rundown strip centers that need to be leveled.
Residents of thaw town should be lining up to thank Joe Faw. Maybe we should name a festival after him.
Lol. I actually chuckled.
The Captain’s Pizza building needs to be leveled. It is an eyesore. Always dirty and why is it when a business puts a poster in the window they never open? And what is that small building behind Sandwich on Main? It’s only purpose is to give rats a home. Somehow the city needs to put pressure on these owners that do not take care of their downtown properties.
Nancy, totally agree with your thinking. These properties make our downtown look horrible. Pressure to either knock down or beautify should be put on the owners of these properties. I heard these are owned by the family of the young gentleman (20’s) who ran in the last election for a commissioner position.
I completely understand the opposition to Harbour Pointe condos. So far I haven’t really met anyone who’s a fan of them. But this development seems like the right way to go. I know we all love the charm of the existing buildings, but if they’re unoccupied then what’s the point? The look of this building fits in well. It’ll help downtown be a destination. It’ll also raise tax revenue. Seems like a win win.
You mean besides the people that bought the condos?
What we need are ideas to get people to go further than Second Street, because that’s where all the “action” is..I believe those strip mall areas have to go…One has been nearly vacant for a long time..If we could come up with a plan for people to venture all the way down Main Street, that would be great
Dave this will help. You have to fill in the best areas first typically. Once that happens development will push further west down Main street.
Totally agree with you Dave. The strip plazas are an eyesore and don’t belong on Main Street. This first development should help create some momentum. I am encouraged by the positivity here and also what we saw at the meeting. Aside from two habitually negative attendees, the crowd was supportive and excited to see some movement toward a stronger more vibrant Main Street.
This is all very exciting and I hope everyone keeps this positive attitude. It is wonderful that everyone is committed to keeping our casual coastal small town feel while reaching for a strong, vibrant and productive community with spirit!
Thank you to Joe Faw and Bay to Bay Properties on being open and meeting with the public for this project which is not a requirement. Thank you for having a balanced approach. The design on both buildings is terrific (i.e., doesn’t look at all like a building along a highway — very bewildered about the comment made from Jennifer Micheal — a very outlandish comparison). The project will help our businesses along Main Street become more vibrant. I have talked to many and they are supportive. We cannot have empty dirt lots on our Main Street. I believe the residential will attract retirees who no longer want to take care of their properties and also have the ability to walk down Main Street for dinner, etc (i.e., no longer having to drive somewhere). This is very exciting for our downtown! This will be a great addition to our downtown!
It looks like a beautiful building and it will definitely enhance downtown. People working in the business offices and living in the apartments behind it will also be supporting the local Mom & Pop stores which is what we are trying to keep and what makes Safety Harbor the cute town that it is. It might also encourage the filling of some of the buildings that currently sit vacant. I live here and I am all for it.
I think this is a fantastic idea for safety harbor !! The more places to shop and eat the better !!!!
Bay to Bay’s plan to build this attractive mixed use complex is just what Main Street needs. We will have a local business headquartered on Main Street that employs many people along with high-end apartments filled with people who will patronize our local businesses and make Main Street more lively. This mixed use development will turn a basically non-productive vacant lot into productive land that will increase tax revenues for Safety Harbor.
Also, when I moved here years ago, I remember there being a vacant lot where the Harbour Pointe building is now located. Just look at how much more vibrant out City has become since that building was built at the corner of Main and S. Bayshore. I am sure that Bay to Bay’s proposed mixed use development will also bring many people here and create a new vibrancy that will enhance Main Street just like the Harbour Pointe building has done.
Agree this is exactly what Downtown Safety Harbor needs. And the people who protested the Harbour Pointe building now practically live at Starbucks! Once this beautiful project is built the negativity will go away and they will enjoy it too.
As stated in his presentation, Faw is the co-owner of Bay to Bay Properties.
Noted and corrected. Thank you.
I like how the kid in the photo is looking at Jen Michaels – like, what are on, lady? Are you high?
Jennifer Michael seems like the welcoming type of person that should help craft Small Town Charm in Safety Harbor.
Lovely person. Lots of great ideas…..
Maybe a slogan of “F You. We don’t want anything built anywhere at anytime. Keep Safety Harbor small. In fact make it smaller.”
Bay to Bay has done so much to beautify Safety Harbor. This project looks like a great addition.