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Captiva resort plans would raze worker quarters, build new luxury units

By Staff | Oct 22, 2014

South Seas resort plans in preliminary stages. CRAIG GARRETT

The South Seas Island Resort in Captiva may grow in the coming year by another 140 units.

Resort officials unveiled the plan at the Oct. 14 meeting of the Captiva Community Panel, the volunteer board with oversight of regulations and development of the small town.

The Panel was advised by South Seas administrators that aging units occupied by resort workers would be razed, the units moved north and rebuilt as luxury apartments with a pool and direct beach access. That most workers commute and that worker housing was obsolete didn’t go without question with Panel members, some expressing skepticism that luxury rentals would be used to house hourly workers. South Seas is limited in the number of units on the sprawling property that dates to the 1930s. Some 90 resort workers are housed in the existing 140-unit structure. The balance commute. Worker travel costs and bridge tolls of some $400,000 are mostly picked annually up by South Seas, administrators told the Panel.

Resort officials conceded that many of the 140 units planned would be used as visitor rentals, and that workers displaced would be scattered around the property in vacant units. The development proposal was delivered by Jose Gonzalez, principal of the Miami-based Gonzalez Architects, the lead agency in the project. Transposing worker units to rentals honors growth agreements dating back decades, Gonzalez said.

Panel members conceding that resort growth is inevitable, even healthy, expressed some concern with what appeared as moving rocks from one pocket to another.

“And that concerns me,” Panel member Jack Cunningham said, adding that a study was warranted for expected bumps in visitor numbers with the new units.

“(You) add 20 percent more square footage,” he said, “and there’s going to be a direct impact on Captiva.”

South Seas administrators pledged to return with updated plans to future Community Panel meetings.