Home / Business / Safety Harbor City Commission approves new Candlewood Suites

Safety Harbor City Commission approves new Candlewood Suites


Safety Harbor and Clearwater residents will have a new option for accommodations for visiting friends and family after the Safety Harbor City Commission approved by a 4-1 vote a major site plan modification for Oakbrook Plaza so a Candlewood Suites can be built.

Commission held a quasi-judicial hearing on the matter on July 16, but held off on a vote until Monday night so it could get clarification on some issues, including the classification of Enterprise Road and a new calculation for the project’s maximum allowable floor area ratio that takes into account submerged wetlands on the property at the intersection of Enterprise and McMullen Booth roads. Lauren Rubenstein of the St. Petersburg law firm Denhardt and Rubenstein, who represented the Countrypark Homeowners Association at the July 16 hearing, reiterated those concerns on Monday night, while representatives of the property owner, KOS Corp., said all concerns had been sufficiently addressed. The city’s Technical Review Committee and Planning & Zoning Board had previously approved the proposal.  

An artist’s rendering of the Candlewood Suites that will be built in Oakbrook Plaza at the intersection of Enterprise and McMullen Booth roads. (KOS Corp.)

Commissioner Nancy Besore was the lone “nay” vote, and she explained prior to the vote that after meeting with City Attorney Nikki Day, she was conflicted, because Besore said if the city code was clear on the issue, she should vote no, but if it was ambiguous, then she should vote yes for legal reasons.

Vice Mayor Carlos Diaz and Commissioners Cliff Merz and Andy Zodrow were on the Commission in 2014 when a hotel was added as an allowable use for the property in question. Merz said all of the issues that were discussed in 2014 were addressed as best they could then and now. Zodrow said he was looking for a way to vote no, but after poring over city code, he couldn’t find a justification for doing so. Diaz said he wasn’t sure what the ultimate goal was of residents, most of whom are from Clearwater, who were opposed to the project sought, except for nothing to be built on the property.

Mayor Joe Ayoub said the application met city code, and it was his responsibility to vote accordingly.   


Design incentives for builders: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve fast-track permit approval and reimbursement of some impact fees for builders who incorporate certain design features, including larger-than-required setbacks, into their site plans.

Tree ordinance Land Development Code amendment: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve a number of changes to the city’s tree ordinance, including the ability for residents and builders to avoid paying a fine when cutting down a hazardous tree by replanting one instead, and that a protected tree that is cut down can’t be replaced by a sabal palm tree.

Code change for fire protection standards: Commission voted 5-0 on second and final reading to approve strengthening the city’s fire protection standards and fire hydrant requirements, as recommended by the Fire Department.


Watch the video of it on the city’s website here: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=2027


7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4. This meeting will be on Tuesday because Labor Day is the Monday prior to it. It also will be the first meeting to address the 2019 budget.


  1. I’m so excited we definitely need this in our area!! Not only is it good for the surrounding businesses, but I’m hosting a reunion in 2020 and no one can afford the Beach prices!

  2. This will certainly spruce up that old shopping plaza while also providing desperately-needed hotel options for Safety Harbor visitors. I couldn’t be more in favor of this decision. Those in opposition must not have seen what it looked like before… it was an eyesore, to put it lightly. Even after the remodel, and even without the Checkers, Blockbuster, and gas station, that plaza looks like something straight out of the 70’s, especially those bigger buildings. I just hope it will be built quicker than the “brand new look– coming soon!” that took them years to complete.

  3. The Candlewood Suites Hotel will bring in traveling business men/women, family members visiting and prospective new neighbors relocating to this area. Thank you Mayor and the Commissioners who voted yes. You did your homework and detailed the reasons why this hotel should be approved.

  4. I am very happy to see that the Candlewood Suites Hotel will be coming to Oakbrook Plaza. Having a new hotel at Oakbrook Plaza will add great new accommodations for our many tourists, hospital workers, doctors, families of patients, professionals, and many visitors who we need to help improve our tourist based economy. These visitors will spend money supporting our local stores, restaurants, and businesses, and they will pay taxes to our local and county governments which will help us improve our schools, libraries, infrastructure, etc.
    The majority of our commissioners voted to approve this new Candlewood Suites because they could clearly see the benefits of taking the existing ugly steel structure at the plaza and replacing it with a beautiful new hotel. The intersection of McMullen Booth Rd. and Enterprise has four commercial plazas that depend on people spending money there and this location is the perfect place to bring in a new hotel. The nearby Clearwater neighborhoods will also benefit as this new hotel will greatly improve the appearance and vibrancy of Oakbrook Plaza.

  5. I listened Monday evening with great interest. along with my neighbors, concerning the plans to build a new Candlewood Suites in what is a very old rusty structure in Oakbrook Plaza. Thank you to Ms. Besore for considering the voices and votes of 1,000 very concerned local citizens. The more than 1,000 local school children who attend Leila Davis Elementary, Safety Harbor Montessori, Enterprise High School, and the children who live and go to school locally from the Pinellas County Sheriff Youth Ranch, have been ignored completely. Our shared communities have always been so family oriented. Pinellas County is doing everything possible to protect our beautiful children. This is a school zone and each of us is responsible for the younger generation. Many of us moved to our beautiful neighborhoods for the safety and peace of mind that our sister communities of 100 years have gifted us with. We have to take care of our beautiful community, our unique Florida environment, and our close neighbors that we love so much. The neighboring Clearwater community is built around the Florida Watershed of Old Tampa Bay, a beautiful, natural Florida landscape. There is no algae bloom on Lake Chautauqua this summer. Mullet Creek flows clear, trickling by the construction site in Oakbrook Plaza. Clearwater has done an amazing job of preserving hidden gem green spaces next door at the Lake Chautauqua Preserve, the 27 acre Equestrian Park, Enterprise Dog Park, and a lovely pocket park, Northwood Park. This has shown a great deal of vision and hard work from our community leaders. We walk everywhere in our neighborhoods when possible. I love Safety Harbor and have lived, worked, and volunteered here for 25 years. This is our home. A great deal has changed in the past 4 years and the codes are not always that one size fits all. Safety Harbor cannot sustain the Candlewood Suites Hotel at Oakbrook. The local shopping centers are quiet at night and the night sounds of owls, cicadas, and frogs fill the air around our residences. I am very worried that these golden years are coming to an end. We will see and hear the many voices of people we will never know for many years. Spending money and investing money are two very different things. I am deeply sorry Safety Harbor thought so little of loyal neighbors who have invested in our communities for many, many years. I am heartbroken, really. Grandmother H

    • The Taco Bell, McDonalds, and at least half a dozen places you can buy alcohol (all within 1,000ft) must be just outside the utopia your post is describing.
      Drive around the back of the plaza and go past Norton’s between 12am-2am – you are in for a shock.
      If you think the clientele this hotel will attract is suddenly going to turn your utopia into a hellscape (“these golden years are coming to an end”…really?), I truly feel bad for the daily nightmare you must face living in the world of paranoia that you exist in.
      And the night sounds of owls, cicadas, and frogs you are hearing is actually just another Allegiant jet or Blackhawk helicopter overhead since, once again, the utopia you are describing must not include the St.Pete/Clearwater flightpath.

        • You must not live around here anymore because if you are savvy enough to attempt to correct me on what the loud orange & white helicopters are called (Coast Guard Jayhawks) you surely would have noticed the loud dark gray helicopters (Army Blackhawks) that go over the area multiple times a day. And as of late you would have noticed a Chinook or two passing overhead.

    • I wonder how much that HOA wasted on a lawyer for something decided almost four years ago.

      If I paid dues to that HOA, I’d be livid if it was a substantial amount.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar
Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views :