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Council hears revised Seven Islands plans

By Staff | Aug 4, 2016

The city council got to look at and discuss an updated view of the several “Seven Islands” concepts during Wednesday’s workshop meeting at City Hall and they all had differing views on what should go there.

Javier Omana of CPH Consultants, presented council with six concepts of different makes and densities for consideration, labeled B, C, and D.

The concepts for the city-owned property in the northwest Cape ranged from development allowing 490 to 1,300 residential units, from 90 to 320 hotel rooms and buildings that were from four floors to 10.

The concepts also had amenity designations for such things as marinas, open space, parks and resorts to look at. There was Tropicana Park and a Tropicana Beach to consider, as well as plans calling ofr marina or no marina, and “cut and fill” between the islands or no “cut and fill.”

The D options had the greatest density, with tall structures and dense housing areas, which nearby property owners balked at during earlier presentations. The council, for the most part, balked at such concepts as well.

Councilmember Jim Burch asked the fundamental question of whether any of the proposed option plans are doable through some type of public private partnership as has been contemplated.

“Let’s keep in mind the cost of the amenities we’re putting in the ground and the contractors based on what he wants out of there in order for him to be involved,” Burch said.

Burch added he was thrilled by what has come out of all the work, but wants to see elevation concepts so the neighborhood has an opportunity to see what residents will have to look at. He still wanted them to think big.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I am green with envy in the southeast where we struggle with Bimini. We had councilmembers who decided to buy this property three years ago; if they hadn’t it would have fallen by the wayside just like downtown,” Burch said.

When it came time for council input, it was mixed. Councilmember Rick Williams said he wanted concept B2, which had little density, no marina, more open space and 679 residential units, 120 hotel rooms and 45,000 square feet of commercial. He also praised a denser concept C2.

Williams said he was pleased Omana decided against filling in the finger canals, but wanted to see something for the boats.

“I know C2 will be easier to sell to developers because it will get them a better profit for homes,” Williams said. “I would love to see mangroves along the edge of the islands instead of a seawall. It’s much prettier.”

Jessica Cosden also liked B2 and C2 because neither had the “cut-and-fill” or a marina.

Marilyn Stout liked C1 because there was a boardwalk, marina and resort, but she wanted to know the cost of cut and fill and didn’t know about the plausibility of the beach.

Richard Leon agreed with Stout, adding that he liked how all the concepts were joined together, but was willing to add stories to the buildings.

“I envisioned a ‘go big or go home’ concept. I like D1 or D2. They have pros and cons. Ultimately, it comes down to what developer come here and what they want to do,” Rana Erbrick said. “This is a city project. It must become a destination.”

City Manager John Szerlag said he hped that, within the next few weeks, city council would decide on one concept.