Waterfront homes to replace apartments; [LATE TAMPA Edition]

JANET ZINK. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jan 7, 2006.

Developers plan to replace the 624-unit Georgetown Apartments with 1,249 homes, including 90 canalfront houses with boat docks and 99 community boat slips, according to documents filed with the city.

A Fort Lauderdale group headed by developer Jim Motta paid $125- million in April for the property on West Shore Boulevard north of Gandy Boulevard.

Because the land is zoned for a large number of multifamily units, it doesn't need to be rezoned to be redeveloped. That means no public hearings on the plans will be scheduled unless the developer needs a variance for height, setbacks or other issues.

Called the Westshore Beach Club, site plans show 90 single- family homes, 188 townhouses and 971 condominiums. Plans also call for a 23,000-square-foot, two-story club house.

Developers still need to get city approval for how they will handle issues such as stormwater, roads, garbage collection and parks.

"There's a way to go before this project is finalized," said city subdivision coordinator Susan Johnson. "It's a giant project."

Residents in the area have expressed concern about the rapid redevelopment of their neighborhood.

The City Council recently approved plans for two other waterfront communities with boating facilities. Construction is under way on 1,750 units at New Port Tampa Bay and 537 homes at the Westshore Yacht Club. Both communities will put more cars on S West Shore Boulevard, which is already congested during high-traffic times.

"It backs up in all directions in the morning and in the afternoon at rush hour," said Al Steenson, chairman of the board of the Gandy/Sun Bay South Civic Association. "They're going to have to deal with the traffic situation on West Shore."

City officials say developers of the Westshore Beach Club will have to put in turn lanes and a traffic signal at the main entrance to their community on West Shore Boulevard at Fair Oaks Avenue.

The city also is conducting a transportation study of the area south of Gandy, including around West Shore Boulevard, to help guide future planning decisions.

Janet Zink can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or jzink@sptimes.com.

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