First test of St. Pete Beach redevelopment

Monday afternoon St. Pete Beach motel owner Robert Czyszczon drove to Tampa and returned with a pile of poster boards depicting a much different property:  a 66-unit upscale hotel he wants to call the "Allure."

It would bear absolutely no resemblance to the Plaza Beach motel it would replace.  

"The new millennials and the new generation are looking for more space,"  Czyszczon explained. "So we're going to be building two-bedroom, two-bath units as well as one bedroom-two bath units."

"Wow" factors include a rooftop deck, a gym with a boxing ring and a two-lane bowling alley, and "... a plexiglass pool, so people can see the beach from the pool and people from the beach will be able to see the people swimming in the pools," Czyszczon said.

Whether it will ever be built remains to be seen.  "This is one of the first built-from-the-ground-up hotels that the city has experienced in more than a decade," Mayor Maria Lowe told FOX 13 News. "I think we're going to have a whole city of eyes on this project, and that's exactly what we want- full transparency and a real test of our system."

For more than a decade, a series of lawsuits filed by citizens wary of over-development, stalled the kind of redevelopment Clearwater Beach has experienced.

Earlier this year, the opponents and the city agreed on new redevelopment regulations.  The Allure is the first attempt to navigate those new rules.

Czyszczon's posterboards were part of the presentation to citizens required by the new regulations.

He cannot even officially request city permissions for 30 days after the public meeting, in theory, giving citizens an opportunity to request changes.

One offshoot of that sequence:  Czyszczon does not even know if his proposal satisfies city codes.

"There was a pretty big stack of papers that our architect went through and I went through to make sure that we were following all of the codes to the T," he told FOX 13 News.

Even so, "That's the difficult part behind it- that you put a lot of work and effort and a lot of upfront costs, not knowing if there's even going to be a plan available."

Other hoteliers are still pondering their redevelopment options, as St. Pete Beach falls further and further behind.  

"We look run down and really we need a facelift as a city," Mayor Lowe conceded.

Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce president Robin Sollie agreed.  "When we have to compete from this beach at other products in other markets, this beach does not compete well," Sollie said.  "The quality and the modernization of the product that we have to offer is so much varyied from what's offered in Clearwater Beach."

Sollie pointed out, the more upscale accommodations fetch higher room rates, pay higher property taxes, employ more people and generate more off-property tourist expenditures.