Developer hits kink in public relations

The Ballast Point Group's plan for informing neighbors leaves one community association official crying foul.

Published June 9, 2006

Developers rebuilding the Cove apartments hoped their site plans of beautiful Mediterranean-style homes with cobbled pathways would pave their welcome into the neighborhood.

The Ballast Point Group developers posted their plans on a Web site to show neighbors and held three informational meetings to answer questions and solicit input.

But the Bayside West Neighborhood Association president is angry. President Jerry Frankhouser only knew about the last meeting, on May 18.

Neighbors with property immediately bordering the Cove on West Shore Boulevard received personal embossed invitations from developers for the first two meetings, but neighbors at the Regency Cove mobile home park only received fliers about the third.

Frankhouser heard about the first two meetings two weeks later from a neighbor.

"They didn't want everybody to hear what the other ones' comments were," Frankhouser said. "And maybe they wanted something special for the people who lived next to them in their own back yard. Maybe they wanted to control them differently."

Frankhouser sent an e-mail to City Council members and county commissioners to complain. The association also has requested copies of the comment cards submitted to developers at the meetings.

Ballast Point Group president Bruce Keene said he will offer them without hesitation but will remove the names on the cards.

"Good, bad, every comment card," Keene said, adding that he wants to make the group's plans as transparent as possible.

Keene said the meetings were separate because people closest to the property would have different, more specific concerns from those who live farther away.

Developers plan to meet with all Bayside West neighbors to discuss the impact the feedback has made on their plans. Frankhouser said neighbors have not completely dismissed the project and want more information before they decide whether to support or protest the project.

"I think there's maybe a little bit of a natural distrust because we're developers, and we're going to build something in their neighborhood," Keene said. "But we're trying our hardest."

If approved by the City Council, construction for the 750 townhomes and condos facing Tampa Bay would begin around 2008. The project, which is still in its conceptual stages, hasn't been scheduled to appear for the council.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 813 226-3354 or

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