Looking Good for Lido

The Detail

BY CATHY ANTUNES SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JAN 19, 2019

It was standing room only at the City Commission’s public hearing to decide whether to approve or deny the proposed Major Conditional Use and Site Plan for Lido Pavilion. At the time of last Monday’s hearing, over 5,400 people had signed the petition to oppose the project. The signatories expressed concern that the proposed development, far more intense than the current use, would ruin the character of Lido Pavilion, Lido beach and neighborhood. The room was filled with residents wearing red garb, which signaled their opposition to the Commissioners. Those signed up to speak were prepared to present evidence against the proposed land use changes.

The hearing began with a surprise announcement that the applicants, Troy Syprett and Gavin Meshad, were proposing to withdraw their application. Attorney Bill Merrill, representing the applicants, acknowledged the overwhelming community sentiment against the project, and said the applicants were looking to terminate the lease and negotiate a settlement with the City for their costs.

Another surprised ensued. Attorney John Patterson, representing Logan Acquisitions, the owners of Lido Beach Resort, made an announcement as well. Contingent on the withdrawal of the application and termination of the lease, his client was willing to donate $175,000 toward the refurbishment of Lido Pavilion. Mr. Walsh, principal partner of Logan Acquisitions, indicated the donation would be toward a refurbishment that had the support of the community, one that maintained the family-friendly nature of Lido Pavilion. The room erupted in applause.

It has been a long and convoluted odyssey since 2007, when City residents voted to set aside $1.25 million toward updates for Lido Pavilion. Those dollars have remained in a designated account ever since, and cannot be used for any other purpose (the interest on those dollars is allocated elsewhere). In 2011 the County ended its maintenance of Lido Pavilion, and the financial responsibility became the City’s once again. In 2014, the City issued an Invitation To Negotiate (ITN) to solicit proposals for redeveloping Lido Pavilion. The applicants were the only respondents to the ITN—an early sign of a flawed process. Negotiations took place over three years, and during that time the applicants’ company was actually not a legal entity. Their LLC began incorporation in October 2017, one month before the City Commission hearings on the lease. The lease is for 10 years with two renewals - 30 years. But there is a provision in the lease which provided the opportunity for the applicants to conduct further improvements at year 24, and extend the lease to amortize those improvements (easily another 20 years). This lease could have tied Lido Pavilion up for more 50 years, essentially changing Lido for good.

While the applicants’ desire to be compensated for costs is troubling for many Lido advocates, it may well be worth it to ensure the issue is settled quickly. Then we can come together as a community and plan a Pavilion that truly serves the public interest. Let’s see this through to the end and get started on a new beginning for Lido Pavilion.

Cathy Antunes is the host of The Detail. 

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