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Date of Issue: February 20, 2008

Office building planned for vacant lot

A developer's plans call for this empty lot at Gulf Drive and Manatee Avenue to eventually house a three-story office building. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A three-story office building may be built near the highly visible vacant lot at the corner of Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

Holmes Beach city commissioners reviewed a preliminary site plan for the project during a meeting Feb. 12.

“I’m glad to see this parcel developed into something useful,” Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said regarding the property, which lies just to the north of Skinny’s Place.

The board didn’t vote on the plan for 301 Manatee Ave., but commissioners indicated their support for the project, with some modifications.

“It’s a good drawing and it’s a good use of the land,” observed Commissioner John Monetti.

The project is being developed by Richard Bond of Sarasota, who wants to build a three-story structure to house his real estate office, as well as other real estate operations.

“We’re trying to give the building an Island flavor,” project engineer Marie McCaughan said.

The Island flavor, she added, would include xeriscape landscaping - landscaping in ways that does not require supplemental irrigation.

Building official Bill Saunders, the city’s assistant public works superintendent, said the building would have a fire sprinkler system and the site would contain 13 parking spaces, as required under the city’s code.

He added that the developer plans to work with the city to create a small park on at least a portion of unimproved Fourth Avenue.

Initial plans called for paving the road, but at Saunders’ request, McCaughan changed the design to close Fourth Avenue for a park and made Gulf Drive the point of ingress and egress for the property.

During the commission meeting, commissioners expressed concern about channeling too many cars on Gulf Drive. They suggested using a portion of Fourth Avenue for a shell driveway to exit the building’s parking lot.

“It was always the intent to exit to Fourth Avenue,” McCaughan responded. “Perhaps a one-way [drive] might take care of your congestion concerns.”

Such a change would alleviate traffic congestion on Gulf Drive and still leave room for a park, said Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, who recommended consulting a city traffic expert.

Commissioners also encouraged the developer to work with the Florida Department of Transportation to extend a sidewalk that runs along Manatee Avenue.

“To the east of Manatee we have a sidewalk going nowhere,” Zaccagnino said.