Proposed hotel in Vilano Beach causing controversy among residents

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The hotel is offered for the beach at the end of the street part of where the Magic Beach Motel is currently located. It will include 194 rooms, a spa, a restaurant and shops.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla .– A proposed new hotel in Vilano Beach is bothering many residents because they say it’s too big for the small town.

“It’s quaint. It’s quirky,” Carol Anderson described in Vilano Beach.

Anderson and her husband Joe live a few miles from Vilano Road, the center of the small town. The road is only a few blocks, stretching from the beach to the intra-coastal waterway.

“We loved this place,” agreed Carol Anderson.

Two new large hotels have recently appeared on either side of Vilano Road. An even bigger project is proposed for the beach at the end of the street. Part of the property is where the vintage Magic Beach Motel is currently located.

Plans call for 194 hotel rooms, a restaurant, spa and retail space.

“The size of the land doesn’t support the size of the hotel,” Joe Anderson told First Coast News.

The Andersons and many others who oppose the scale of the project say it just doesn’t fit the vision for downtown Vilano. According to a web page from downtown Vilano, this vision is to “maintain the community character of the small seaside town”.

Residents are also concerned about the impact of the loading dock on traffic. According to the developer’s plans, the loading dock would be about a block from the base of the Vilano Bridge. This is an area that can get quite crowded.

First Coast News has contacted Key International, the developer, for comment.

“We created a wide indentation to allow easy entry and exit of trucks,” said Colin Gorsuch, vice president of development for Key International.

He added that delivery times will be limited.

Residents are also concerned about the added pressure on the small private utility and water company.

“When a bad storm comes, [North Beach Utilities] flooding, ”Anderson said. “We are out of water. They’re going to maintain 194 more toilets besides the Hyatt and Holiday Inn? What will this do for the residents? “

A 2019 document from North Beach Utilities says new homes and hotels will impact the utility’s ability to remove wastewater within 5 to 10 years.

“We have letters of confirmation from the county and from North Beach Utilities which validate that the development plans are well within the required capacity limits,” commented Gorsuch.

However, the biggest concern for many residents is that they feel ignored by St. Johns County staff, claiming staff have not provided information.

“Just answer the questions,” said Breau Alexander. “These are valid questions. They are important.”

“We’re not trying to fight the developers,” Anderson added. “We are trying to figure out how this can work for everyone.”

The proposed development is on the agenda for Tuesday’s St. Johns County Commission meeting.

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