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Date of Issue: May 14, 2008

Pine Avenue preservation gets first-step approval

The first step in the future of what Anna Maria resident Mike Coleman and businessman Ed Chiles believe will preserve the historic "Old Florida" ambiance of Pine Avenue took place May 6 when the Anna Maria planning and zoning board unanimously approved a site plan for their project at 315 and 317 Pine Ave.

The project in the city's retail-office-residential area has two separate buildings and will have a residential unit on the upper floor of each structure with retail space below. Each building will have 2,400 feet for retail-office use and 2,000 feet of residence.

Coleman said the structures will be built in a “wedding-cake” design to avoid the “big box effect” of a structure built straight up from the ground.

Some residents, however, questioned the project and its impact on Spring Avenue, the parallel street immediately south of Pine Avenue.

Spring Avenue resident Marie White has concerns about the impact of activity at the site on nearby residents and Coleman agreed to construct a 6-foot-high fence at the rear of the property for buffer.

Although the site plan doesn’t call for a Dumpster, Coleman agreed with residents' concerns about that. The board included a stipulation in its approval that there be no trash Dumpster.     

"This is really great," said Coleman. "I was pleasantly surprised at the unanimous approval. The questions and suggestions were thoughtful and helpful. We really appreciate everyone’s input.”

Coleman said they plan to begin construction within 60 to 90 days and the group is already moving forward with plans for its next step in the project at 401 Pine Ave. At present, the structure is home to several retail businesses, including a podiatrist, a hair salon and a real estate office.

That project will have essentially the same footprint as 315 and 317 Pine Ave., but Coleman indicated it will have different design elements to distinguish it.

Under new site-plan procedures approved by the city commission, Coleman’s project only needed P&Z approval. It’s not considered a “major” development, which still needs approval from the city commission, because each project in the overall plan is separate.

The architectural style of the approved buildings, Coleman said, is in keeping with the "Old Florida" atmosphere of Pine Avenue and the intention of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC, the investment group that Chiles and Coleman put together last year.

The two men became concerned that the older structures on Pine Avenue that represent the "Old Florida" look of the city could be torn down in favor of "mega-mansions" such as those recently built on the site of the former Island Marine.