Vacasa plans to abide Anna Maria’s business ban

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The sign at the former Island Real Estate office at 419 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, is blank. The office now belongs to Vacasa, an international vacation rental company. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

International vacation rental company Vacasa is taking steps to avoid violating Anna Maria’s formula retail ordinance.

In December, Island Real Estate sold its vacation rental operations to the Oregon-based vacation rental giant. The sale included handing over the lease to IRE’s Pine Avenue office.

However, questions have been raised about whether Vacasa can operate in the city without violating Anna Maria’s formula business ban.

Commissioners adopted an ordinance in August 2017 that defines a formula retail business as one with more than three locations, that maintains two or more of the following features: standardized merchandise, a standard facade, standard décor, a color scheme, standard uniforms or standard signage or trademarks.

During the Feb. 8 city commission meeting, Mayor Dan Murphy said a company interested in operating in Anna Maria had asked why Vacasa was allowed to do business in the city, claiming it is a formula chain that operates internationally.

Murphy said at the meeting that Vacasa does not appear to be in violation of the city ordinance, but added the city would keep an eye on the company to make sure it complies.

Alex Pew, public relations manager for Vacasa, said Feb. 12 the company is in conversation with city officials to ensure it does not violate the ordinance.

Pew also said Island Real Estate employees at the Anna Maria office are being retained as Vacasa employees.

Murphy said Feb. 15 that a meeting with Vacasa representatives “went really well.”

“We had a productive conversation,” Murphy said. The company committed to ensuring its signage, décor and other features do not violate the city ordinance, according to Murphy.

“They gave me their word that they would be in compliance,” Murphy said.

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