Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Developers to make latest pitch to city

Commission to Hold Workshop to Hear Presentations on Sebastian Inland Harbor Project

by Michael Reed, St. Augustine Record

Potential developers of the Sebastian Inland Harbor project submitted proposals in December that were accepted Monday by the St. Augustine City Commission.The commission will hold a special workshop later this week or early next week -- City Manager Bill Harriss has to coordinate the schedules of the developers -- to hear presentations on the three proposals the city received. The developers will speak for 15 minutes, and the commissioners will rank the proposals.

"This is an exciting time for us to proceed forward with this project," Harriss said.

The city wants a hotel, marina, commercial and residential space built at the harbor, which is next to the San Sebastian Winery.

The only developer to speak at the meeting was Doug Warner with Premier Hospitality Group of Charleston, S.C. He said the company submitted a non-conforming proposal, and he asked the commission to entertain options to use adjacent city property to build a larger development.

Old City Investment Group made a proposal for a 150-room, $14 million hotel, $800,000 in retail space, 175 condominiums worth $40 million, a $4 million parking garage, a $500,000 restaurant and a $3.5 million marina with 85 slips. The company offered $4.5 million for the property.

San Sebastian Harbor Partners proposed a 110-room hotel, 130 condos, 300,000 square feet of retail space, an 85-slip marina, an outdoor amphitheater and a river walk. The company offered $3.6 million for the property.

Another developer, Doug Randall, was ranked second after the city asked for proposals in 2000. Vestcor won the contract but later pulled out.

Randall said he should have been next in line. He said he didn't submit a new bid because he has a legitimate proposal already on the table.

Harriss asked the commission to consider the services of an independent architect that would act as a consultant with knowledge of large, multi-use downtown projects. He said he had a couple of people in Jacksonville in mind.

"It's a very cheap consultant for a short period of time, and this is a very important project," Harriss said. "We can't afford to make a mistake on it."

Mayor George Gardner said the city has been holding public hearings, getting a consensus from the public and moving forward with projects such as the harbor and a downtown traffic and parking plan. If the city continues forward, people will see shovels turning.

"We have a solid game plan, and we're following it," Gardner said.

The website for San Sebastian Partners is www.sebastianinlandharbor.com


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