The public will have its chance this week to weigh in on a proposal to bring at least 130 new transient rental units to the Key West Harbour Yacht Club on Stock Island.
Some of the units would be configured like condos and others would be part of a hotel, according to Robert Spottswood Jr., whose family’s company purchased the marina two years ago.
Spottswoods Companies Inc. and its planners and attorneys will host a virtual community meeting on the proposal at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 6. Information on participating in the meeting can be found at http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=8804&month=4&year=2021&day=1&calType=0.
The company has submitted a development agreement with the Monroe County government and a request to change the land-use map from mixed-use to destination resort.
Spottswood Companies Inc. purchased Key West Harbour Yacht Club off Maloney Avenue in 2019 and plans to keep a marina that caters to recreational and charter boat fishermen. The marina has roughly 100 wet slips, 375 dry-dock slips, yacht club, pool and three units that can be rented out transiently.
However, the Spottswood Company is looking at adding a hotel and condominium units that also can be rented out transiently, Spottswood Jr. said.
The Spottswoods plan to “rebrand and rename” the marina and gear it toward a “marina lifestyle” for people “who are looking to spend time on the water,” Spottswood Jr. said.
If approved, this would be the third large hotel placed on Stock Island in the past 10 years. For decades, Stock Island had been the home to the working class and to commercial fishing but in recent years it has become more tourist friendly.
But the growth has brought more traffic and brought a greater demand for parking. Stock Island residents and county planning staff have begun to raise concerns about traffic, parking and quality of life and some have questioned the need for more transient accommodations there. New hotels also mean more workers, and more workers means a greater need for housing. The county is currently going through an affordable housing crisis.
“Traffic is obviously going to be an issue,” said Monroe County Commissioner Craig Cates, who represents Stock Island. “They are going to have to come up ways to mitigate traffic.”
As a way to mitigate traffic, Spottswood Jr. proposed the family’s company could expand its water taxi or shuttle service it operates at its Key West resort, the Beachside, to Stock Island and offer to other hotels on Stock Island.
The Spottswoods currently operate a 37-passenger, shallow-draft catamaran that travels three times a day between the Beachside Resort off North Roosevelt Boulevard and the A&B Marina in the Key West Bight, Spottswood Jr. said. The service is very popular among tourists, as it gives them the chance to spend time on the water, he said.
“This would eliminate a lot of cars coming into downtown,” Spottswood Jr. said of expanding the water taxi service.
Also, with more restaurants and hotels being placed on Stock Island, there are more options for tourists and less reason for people to travel to Duval Street and into Key West, Spottswood said.
Cates seemed optimistic about the water taxi proposal, but he also raised concerns about protecting working waterfront and saving services and infrastructure like boat racks, he said.
“There are a lot of good things going on out there,” Cates said. “We have to make sure it all meshes together.”
The proposal will next go to the county’s Development Review Committee, possibly in April or May, or then to the Planning Commission in June. The proposal would then go to the Monroe County Commission.