Home / Business / SHCC agrees to move forward with development agreement for Main Street mixed-use project

SHCC agrees to move forward with development agreement for Main Street mixed-use project

Safety Harbor officials agreed on Monday to enter a development agreement with Bay to Bay Properties that calls for a mixed-use complex consisting of residential, retail and office space to be constructed on a one-acre parcel located on the northwest corner of Main Street and Second Avenue North. (Credit: Bay to Bay Properties)

The Safety Harbor City Commission unanimously agreed on Monday to move forward with a development agreement for the proposed mixed-use project on Main Street.

According to the general terms that have been worked out between the City and local developer Bay to Bay Properties, the agreement includes the construction of a three-story commercial building of roughly 18,000-22,000-sq.-ft. on Main Street as well as a three-story, 24-unit multi-family structure on the northern portion of the one-acre parcel, which is located on the northwest corner of Main Street and Second Avenue North.

While a couple of the commissioners expressed reservations about the deal, namely the height of the residential structure that would overlook single-family homes on Second Street North, all five local lawmakers agreed the project would be a good one for the City.

“I think this is a great project,” Vice-Mayor Carlos Diaz said during the discussion of the agenda item, adding, “I commend the applicant for his vision.”

Vice-Mayor Carlos Diaz.

Although Diaz conceded no project is perfect, he said this one would “bring a lot of benefits to the community” and “help push Main Street forward” regarding its stagnant growth.

One major sticking point of the deal for some, including opponents who have reportedly been voicing their dislike for the project on social media, is the City’s planned reimbursement of $160,000 in parkland dedication fees to Bay to Bay.

According to officials, the parkland fee would initially be paid by the developer and then repaid using Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) funds.

In return for the reimbursement, Bay to Bay agreed to make considerable concessions on the project to the City, including:

  • reducing the maximum allowable height of the residential building by 22% (35′ max. proposed, 45′ max. allowed)
  • reducing the maximum allowable height of the commercial building by 11% (40′ max. proposed, 45′ max. allowed)
  • increasing the setbacks on Second Street North and Second Avenue North by 200% and 300%, respectively
  • reserving the ground floor of the commercial building for restaurant and retail use only for a period of no less than five years
  • planting 3 “substantial” oak trees on Second Avenue North at a cost of roughly $20,000
  • creating 30 parking spaces to be designated for public use
Local developer Bay to Bay Properties has proposed a mixed-use develppment for this vacant lot on the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue North in downtown Safety Harbor.

While critics have characterized the reimbursement as akin to giving a generous handout to a private, profitable company, officials called it a correct use of CRA funds for a deal that will ultimately benefit the City.

Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub.

“I’ve seen a couple of people make comments that the City is basically doing a giveaway for $160,000 and basically we’re not getting anything in return, that we’re subsidizing this project,” Mayor Joe Ayoub said.

He then asked City Manager Matt Spoor if by agreeing to the terms in the context of a development agreement, it gives the City more control over the project.

“Yes, the only caveat is there might be more…advantages that come,” Spoor replied.

Spoor pointed out the value of the land for the 30 parking spaces is estimated at $175,000, and he noted the project is expected to generate roughly $55,000-$75,000 a year in taxes.

Commissioners Andy Zodrow and Cliff Merz expressed their approval of the project, but both noted concerns about the height of the residential structure, while Zodrow also questioned the allocation of CRA funds.

City Commissioner Andy Zodrow.

“I do want to see the City move forward with the development agreement, but I do have some concerns,” Zodrow said, adding his “real issue is with the height of the residential building…and using that amount of CRA money. You’re asking to take a lot of money from the CRA.”

The vice-mayor, however, directly disagreed with that assessment.

“As far as the use of CRA funds, I can’t see a better use of them,” Diaz said.

“I think this is a true use of the CRA. The CRA replenishes itself…and I can’t say enough about this project.”

Ultimately, the five commissioners agreed to allow the City Manager to move forward with the negotiations on the agreement, with the understanding the applicant would be bringing a site plan before the Planning and Zoning Board for review in the near future.

A look at the conceptual rendering for the mixed-use development proposed by Bay to Bay properties in downtown safety Harbor.

After the meeting, Bay to Bay co-owner Joe Faw spoke about the commission’s decision.

“I feel good about it,” Faw told Safety Harbor Connect outside City Hall. “I think it’s getting close to a win-win.”

Bay to Bay Properties co-owner Joe Faw.

Regarding the opposition to the project, Faw was blunt.

“We feel like we’re going above and beyond what’s required of us, so it’s a bit surprising to hear opposition of that,” he said. “The facts are pretty clear that we’re spending north of a half a million dollars in extras per the City’s request in the form of setback reductions and adding trees, architectural enhancements and parking, and it’s unfortunate the public doesn’t see that.”

Despite the concerns, Faw is confident the project will ultimately win over its detractors.

“We’re trying to address the concerns respectfully and professionally, and we hope people will eventually realize that,” he said.

“We’re going to show that when you compare what we’re allowed to do to what we are doing, it doesn’t compare.”

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  1. Shelley, get back to the pussy dealings on your property behind the BBQ place on Main St. I am informed and according to the Safety Harbor Connect, you were brought before the commission in regards to your harassment of homeowners. It’s all there in black and white. Go away already! Here is a big pussy good-bye.

  2. Since “Steven” and “Tom” are not factually informed…This was posted on Scott Long’s facebook page as well as on Saving Safety Harbor Please see Scott Long’s facebook page for his discussion of this project. This is my response: Safety Harbor Commissioner Scott Long Thank you for clarifying your position on the Bay to Bay project. It’s good to hear that you will keep an open mind, and reconsider on the $160K. But, as for your prior comment, (using the Firmenich project in order to justify approving this Bay to Bay project) This reasoning does not apply the proper law to the facts of the case. The Land Development code REQUIRES compatibility of a new project. The construction scope and scale MUST be compatible to the adjacent land uses and existing buildings. This is not a discretionary determination, and therefore it is not a “slippery slope”. The Richman project was denied by the County for reasons unrelated to compatibility. The court ruled against Pinellas County because the County relied upon an illegal policy, specifically denying residential use in an industrial area. The policy was not formalized in the development code, therefore; the Richman/Firmenich denial had NOTHING TO DO WITH COMPATIBILITY. On the other hand, Compatibility, IS a requirement for this project, (under the Development Code). And requires an objective review of the 3 story condo project, in comparison and contrast to the adjacent house to the North. As such, you should be more concerned about a possible lawsuit by the adjacent resident for the city’s failure to recognize that 3 story condos do not “fit” in this residential neighborhood. A smoother transition would be provided by a buffer or greenspace between the 3 story condos and the 1 story house. Your reply above states: ” compatibility is subjective, and thus comes with great risk.” But, again, compatibility is a REQUIREMENT. So, how is there any “competent evidence” as to compatibility between a 3 story condo building and the 1 story house that is currently existing here and now? Compatibility must be an affirmative finding of the commission in order to approve the project. These facts must be found, and placed in the record, according to both proper procedure and land use law. Do you recognize this as an acceptable “risk” of not finding compatibility as a fact?

    • Gosh – if the next election is going to be about who is pro-dirt pile and who is not, Safety Harbor is going to have some easy decisions to make next year! 🙂

  3. This post, in part, is taken from Commissioner Scott Long’s FB page. While reading one of Commissioner Long’s post, I also read a post from Steven Barnard where I am mentioned.

    While I don’t feel the need to defend myself, or explain my past actions, I am posting a response here for him to see, as he is blocked from seeing me on FB.

    Here is Steven’s post:
    When Saving Safety Harbor, Patty Kent, Barbara Hollen-Hugg and all their supporters rallied against the Firmenich site, ALL Pinellas County taxpayers had to fork over $16.5 million to Richman after the county lost a lawsuit.

    Now they are upset over an amount that’s like, what, less than a percentage point of what they cost us?

    They are no friend of the taxpayer…at all.
    ……..End Quote……..

    Steven, I didn’t cost the taxpayers 16.5 million dollars, the county commission did. They voted, twice, not to approve the project. Not me. I would appreciate it if you would stop saying that I cost taxpayers $16.5 million.

    Yes, I was pleased the Richman Group project did not pass. Certainly, I am not happy about the county being sued and owing money to the Richman Group. I am a tax payer just like you, so it will cost me as well.

    I have no idea what you are referring to with this statement. ‘Now they are upset over an amount that’s like, what, less than a percentage point of what they cost us?’ As you do not know me personally, how could you possibly know what I am thinking or feeling? What are you talking about? Why would you say this? I haven’t spoken to you, or posted anything, so how could possibly even say something like this in relation to me?

    There was no malicious intent on my part, when speaking out against this particular project, only concern how it would impact, not only my neighborhood, but surrounding areas with a trickle down affect.

    I used my first amendment rights to speak out against something I thought would negatively impact my quality of life, as did many others. You do the exact same thing all the time, on your behalf, and that is your right, so don’t criticize me because we didn’t agree. Kindly leave references to me out of your postings.

    For the record, not that it matters, I think the renderings and plans for the new project on Main look fantastic, and my hope is this project is the start to a revitalization of DT.

    • I’d agree that influencing the county to act in an unethical fashion was a collective effort. This is why I named several key players .

      I am glad you like the new building proposal!

    • Didn’t the Hollen-Hugg’s go crazy and start posting pictures of people’s family and claim their emails and Facebooks were hacked as a desperate attempt to turn the election?

      I think if you go on Sheryl’s page, you can still see all the strange things she was posting.

  4. I can’t wait to see the gorgeous building with people enjoying it. I frequent safety Harbor and it will be a very welcome addition

  5. Saving Safety Harbor Commissioner Scott Long responded to the posting on SSH, and sent an email directing attention to his facebook page. This was SSH response to Commissioner Scott Long. It is a good sign that he has given this project some thought and is aware of the Residents concerns. Saving Safety Harbor: Hello Scott, and thank you for your email.
    1. It is true that Development is inevitable and the Bay to Bay project property has a more intense development zone than exists on most of the rest of Main Street.
    2. A development agreement is the Developer’s best bet to have fees waived, or minimum standards and requirements disregarded. Also true, that if a developer submits a site plan that 100% meets city code and regulations, it can not be denied without risking a lawsuit. It seems that most of the Commissioners and Residents desire the new development to be “compatible with existing structures”. So, where the maximum allowed development fails the “compatibility” test, then this is a problem with the Land Development Code, and the Commission should be considering revisions to the Code.
    3. The developer has indicated an interest in building “less than the maximum-allowable heights, to build farther back from the street than is allowed, to lease the first floor of commercial space for only restaurant and retail uses for at least five years, to plant three substantial live oaks …and build and make available for public use 30 parking spots.” However; as you point out, we will lose about 30 public parking spots on the vacant lot, upon development. Further, how realistic is it to think that the 30 “public parking” spots will not be needed and used by the Residents of the 24 condominiums (36 vehicles), plus the Bay to Bay employees, plus anyone going to the restaurant/retail establishments? This does not translate into ‘more’ parking, but more likely less available parking. As for the oak trees…..well just take look at the number and size of the existing oak trees that will be cut down.
    4. The parkland fees are required of EVERY other builder who builds a residential unit. There have been other construction projects, that have NOT built to the maximum allowable size, and those property owners paid the parkland fees, and they continue to pay the parkland fees with their tax bills. There was no “waiver” for those projects just because they didn’t maximize the scale or scope to the allowable limits. It is not significant that the city wants to pay the Developer $160K out of the Community Redevelopment Agency fund. It is still the taxpayer’s dollars that are being given to this Developer that is building from corner to corner, from street to street, 3 stories high and covering every inch of the property.
    5. All of the other construction projects in this city have resulted in an increase in tax revenue. The fact that a new development pays taxes does not overcome the taxpayer’s objection to paying this Developer $160,000. If the increase in tax revenue justifies this expenditure for this project, then the city should simply waive the fee for everyone. You are correct that there are Residents that “do not like this project”, and you may feel that their dislike of the project is irrelevant. However; it’s important that you understand that “there are residents…who do not wish for public funds to be used in any way for private projects.”
    Commissioner Zodrow raised an interesting and viable alternative, that would benefit both the Developer and the Community. Why not use the $160,000 parkland fees as a down payment for the vacant NE corner of Main and 2nd? The city could leave this little piece of greenspace in our down town area for ALL to enjoy. The Residents of the 24 condominiums would have a place to go, and something pleasant to look at, instead of just a paved parking lot and traffic. This would be a selling feature for the Developer, and make the project more palatable to the rest of the community. This expenditure would be in keeping with the intent and spirit of the CRA funds, which are required to provide a benefit to the whole community.
    Thank you for your consideration of this idea.

    • I like the idea of the city buying the vacant NE corner of Main and 2nd. The Bay to Bay project and a new city park on Main Street will be a win-win for Downtown Safety Harbor!

    • Well, if the infamous SS is against it, it must have merit for the rest of us. Beautiful project and great step forward for Safety Harbor.

  6. Great project. The funds are not inappropriate. The developer offered concessions and the city paid them for it. I don’t see the issue.

    Also, stop bitching about the height. The building is shorter than what the code allows. If you are concerned about the height, then change the code

    The residents of this city complain about everything.

  7. Math:
    24 Single family units…. 24 or more cars.
    Let’s say 3 workers per 2000 sq. feet of commercial/retail space… conservatively 27 workers that will mostly arrive with their own cars.
    Let’s also assume that some of that commercial space will see customers.
    24 + 27 = 51 spots, not yet factoring in customers.
    I see approximately 30 parking spots planned.
    Across the street, the mixed use building, where Starbucks and Bar Fly among others is located, has approximately 100 parking spots.
    Does the proposed building itself have first-floor in-building parking for the residents of the residential portion of the plan?
    I’m not an architect, or a planner… I just like to be able to find a parking spot when I want one.

    • There are more than 1,000 public parking spaces available in downtown Safety Harbor. …with, on a daily basis, about 50 percent of them available.

    • Let’s remember that Main Street is not a strip mall. There is parking available on side streets, etc. When someone comes to a Main Street, please plan on walking/strolling. Thinking you can park directly in front of where you are going (such as a strip mall) should not be expected. If this is what you prefer, please go to a strip mall then based on your parking expectations. Main Street is not meant for those type of parking expectations.

      • I’m in favor of developing the lot, and I enjoy walking. That lot has been completely full with vehicles during many events. I’m just saying that parking is a concern that could be addressed in advance of the problem instead of after. My assumption that code exists to require that all property development plans include adequate parking is apparently incorrect. The rules put in place by the SHCC to make sure that people park in a manner that allows access for emergency vehicles on all streets will be further tested. My hope is that all citizens are considerate when parking… but hope is not a strategy.

        • Most cities are getting rid of parking codes altogether because they discourage walkability and many cities have more than enough parking available. Safety Harbor is no exception.

          Event parking will always be an issue. You shouldn’t sacrifice a well-executed development because we can’t park for the weekly “craft” market. These events are like a drug. They are addicting and bring in money but at the expense of main street and actual residents.

          • I checked with Matt Spoor (the coolest guy in city management anywhere). He responded: “The 30 spaces mentioned in the article are spaces that the developer will dedicate to the city. There’s an additional 32 spaces on the interior of the site. “

  8. OK folks, for all of you saying “not our money” here is a quick lesson on CRA funds.
    The CRA fund comes from tax revenue increases from properties within the CRD (Community Redevelopment District) which for Safety Harbor is basically the districts surrounding Main Street. Any funds received from a tax increment financing area must be used for specific redevelopment purposes within the targeted area, and not for general government purposes. So using these funds for a development project within the CRD is EXACTLY the kind of thing it is intended for and restricted to. Similarly, if Ms Jane Smith lives in a house within the CRD, and she wants help improving her facade, she can apply for a grant from the CRA fund. So for all of us that live outside the CRD, none of our taxes go to the CRA fund, nor can we directly utilize these funds. But we all benefit from the improvements these funds help generate in our CRD/ downtown area. On top of all that, this improvement of this TEN YEAR VACANT dirt lot will contribute $55 – $75,000 per year to the CRA fund. Thats a payback of less than three years.

    Some definitions:
    CRA – Community Redevelopment Act
    CRD- Community Redevelopment District- a targeted area identified by local government as distressed or in need of reinvestment and redevelopment consistent with the comprehensive plan.
    Tax Increment Financing- tax revenue that comes from property value increases on property within the CRD. This incremental tax revenue is deposited to the CRA trust fund and specifically earmarked for redevelopment projects within the CRD.

  9. I am glad this was approved by Commissioners Zodrow, Merz, Long, Diaz and Mayor Ayoub. This is a great addition to our town. Looking forward to its completion….soon!

  10. I am happy to see that the Safety Harbor City Commission agreed to move forward with a development agreement for this proposed mixed-use project on Main Street. This attractive commercial and residential project on the second block of Main Street will really help bring new life to our Main Street. I also believe that this mixed-use commercial and residential project with its attractive architectural design will raise the bar for all future developments that are going to be built in the downtown area.

  11. Why should the residents pay there fees ??? They need to pay tihere own impact fees, not the residents of safety harbor.

  12. I love the design and for what it is worth, I would like to request a Mexican restaurant. Or Cuban would be nice.

    • What funds being wasted are you talking about? This is a private project funded by private money. Typical status que response to anything positive for Safety Harbor.: Mis-information, untruths and lies.
      Safety Harbor should thank Bay To Bay Properties, then thank it again for investigating in the city’s future.

  13. This project IS a win-win for downtown Safety Harbor! How exciting to have a builder who was born, raised, lives, works and is raising his family in Safety Harbor behind this beautiful project. Not only does it bring sophistication to a dirt lot, it brings employment too!

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