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wolfdawg54

Atlantic beach proposal shot down

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Last modified Tue., July 27, 2004 - 12:23 PM

Originally created Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Atlantic Beach defers vote on condo project

Delay allows Johnston Island developers to consider height limit.

By CHRISTOPHER F. AGUILAR

The Times-Union

A vote on a condominium project in Atlantic Beach was deferred Monday after city leaders agreed to let the developers consider how a lower height limit would impact their project .

The City Commission unanimously approved a 35-foot height limit that is about half what the developers wanted for the Johnston Island project.

Commissioners put aside votes on land use and zoning ordinances to allow Bridge Tenders LLC of Jacksonville to decide how the project would be impacted. The 35-foot limit now exists for other buildings in the city.

The controversial project would bring 30 to 36 condos, a private marina, recreational amenities and a possible bed and breakfast and restaurant to the 7.5-acre island beneath the Atlantic Boulevard bridge.

Bridge Tenders purchased the island last October and then filed an application in January to change the island's land use and zoning designations.

Residents opposed to the condo project packed commission meetings to express their concerns about the project and their desire for the marshfront island to remain undisturbed.

chris.aguilarjacksonville.com, (904) 249-4947, extension 19

Oh tooo bad. Na na na na, hey hey hey, GOOD-BYE!!!!!!

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It is not that I don't want some sort of small development on Johnston Island, but I was NOT in favor of the tall condo. I wish that I have apicture of the island to show you what I mean. The developers idea needs to go to Jacksonville Beach, not AB, which only has smaller residental homes, except by Town Center where shops are located, none of which exceed 35 ft. The Sea Turtle is the exception though because it was built before the height limit was imposed. The developers did not speak in the meeting though. I think that they need to go back to the drawing boards and develop something more realistic that flows with AB. All I have to say is GOOD-BYE!

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I would hate to see Atlantic or Neptune Beaches exceed the height limit for any reason. Every beach city does not have to succumb to a wall of high-rises along the beach. The variety of beaches in Jax and the adjoining counties is one of the best features of the area IMO.

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Although I've driven over the Atlantic Blvd bridge several times, I've never noticed an Island under it. With that being said, I'm not against putting 70ft buildings next to a bridge that is just as high. I don't see how, if its right next to the huge bridge, will have a negative effect on the scenery, which also includes a shipyard with several cranes, many rusted, next to it. It could actually be an improvement.

However, the 35 ft height limit thing is another issue. Personally, I'd rather have a well designed slender 50ft building on the beach, then a 35ft high box, that offers nothing more than a blank wall at street level. Instead of worrying about the height limit so much, I'd like to see some architectural guidelines developed for those beach cities that force land owners to make their buildings look nicer at street level.

I also don't mind the condo explosion occurring in Jax Beach. The heights of the condos now are a pretty good size, so I don't think a new height restriction is needed. However, like I said earlier, better architectural guidlines need to be established. There's nothing worse than a new condo tower design that has the back of its parking garage facing 1st St.

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The problem with the location of the condo under the bridge is that it would swallow up the entire island and ignore the principles of the city. There really are not condos in AB, just regular single-family homes. It is truly a great place to visit!As for the architecture in old AB, it is not boxy looking. They come in a variety of sizes and styles. Check it out!

If you go to Johnston island and take a look around, you will see what I mean. Smaller development for that is better. A restaurant or single family dwellings would be better on the island, than a huge condo, as they are trying to preserve the northern part of the island. As for the shipyard across the way, that is Jacksonville territory, not AB. Condos are great where they belong, not here in AB!

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I'll have to pull up a aerial, here at work, and locate the Island, to see for sure. However, I have a feeling they'll still swallow up the island, with a dense and less impressive group of 35ft residential structures, thus consuming more land, meaning less open space, to accommodate the no. of residential units needed to make their numbers work. Most likely these will still be condos or townhouses, because I seriously doubt their profit numbers will work out if they have to build a couple of single family homes. However unit type, doesn't seem to be the issue here. It will probably be very similar to the Harbortown development being constructed across the bridge in Jax.

IMO, whatever they build there, condo tower or not, will upgrade the drive into AB. I travel to the Mayport base a lot and the first thing I always notice is the huge mobile home park, just north of Atlantic, and 1960's styled apartments, when I take the flyover, heading north.

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I am talking about using all the units projected. Just a couple of dwellings will do, not covering the whole island. Also, they should tear down the abandoned structures. I prefer rezoning the area and buying the land from the developers to make it into single-family dwellings. The design was similar to a mini Harbourtown but the island is tiny. Also, Mayport Road is next on the docket for AB. Planning is already underway for a landscaped median. Where will the people who live in the trailerpark go though? You tell me.

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I just took a look at an aerial of the site. I had no idea the island sits directly under the center of the bridge. Now I really don't understand why this project is so controversial. They should at least be allowed to build the same height as the bridge, which is well over 35ft. Plus its about a mile away from the nearest built structure in AB and a lot closer to that shipyard and Harbortown, than it is to anybody else. Seriously, the only true argument anybody on the AB side can make against this project is that they would like the developers to abide by the city's existing laws, so you won't have someone in the future say, "well you let these guys do it, why can't I".

from the article

Residents opposed to the condo project packed commission meetings to express their concerns about the project and their desire for the marshfront island to remain undisturbed.
The problem, isn't this project's height, the blockage of view or whether single family homes or condos are built on it. The main problem is AB residents don't want anything built on the island, period!

So really, in this situation, since the developers already own the land as long as they abide by the city's height restriction, everything looks like a go. Its a very expensive site, so I'd expect this thing to get packed with as many homesites, as the code allows. So in the end, the developer still gets his money and the residents still lose the fight to preserve the island.

On the other hand, if the residents and city really want to save the island from development and turn into a waterfront park or nature reserve, they should pony up some money and purchase it from the developers at market price. That's the fair thing to do. I'm pretty sure the developers can take the extra cash and find a suitable site on the Jax side to do a nice project, thus saving the island from development.

I am talking about using all the units projected. Just a couple of dwellings will do, not covering the whole island. Also, they should tear down the abandoned structures. I prefer rezoning the area and buying the land from the developers to make it into single-family dwellings.

Unfortunately, I doubt the city of AB has the funds to justify buying such an expensive piece of property, unless AB residents agree to raise their taxes and donate money to help finance it. At this point, the developers can probably build what they please, as long as they follow the present zoning restrictions, to dismay of many.

The design was similar to a mini Harbourtown but the island is tiny. Also, Mayport Road is next on the docket for AB. Planning is already underway for a landscaped median. Where will the people who live in the trailerpark go though? You tell me.

No, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anybody needs to replace the trailer park. I'm just making the point that, if it were 70ft (6 or 7 stories) it wouldn't become a negative sight on AB's image and entry, compared to what already exists when you hit Mayport Rd.

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I don't know this specific island that well, although I have driven to AB via Atlantic Blvd a few times. It does sound like an opportunity to preserve the island was lost when the Preservation Project did not include it.

Atlantic Beach is a great beach city. I know some cities are going to be high-rised along the beachfront, but I prefer to actually see the ocean. 35' isn't tall enough to do much of a condo project, so it preserves the single family quality. I see Lakelander's point about the building height in regards to the bridge, but it could lead to a domino effect. When that fly-over was planned, the AB officials protested it for the very reason that the height was excessive. If the flyover is the "camel's nose under the tent" that leads to a condo of equal height, which then leads to OTHER condos in AB that same height, soon AB would lose it's rare and attractive appearance. I say nip-it in the bud. 35' is the law, don't change it. AB residents want to keep their town as it is, they have that right. If Jax Beach prefers mid-rises, they are within their rights as well.

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Well actually, it is currently zoned conservation but development had already been on the island when the island belonged to Jacksonville.

Vicupstate, that is the main reason why they are opposed to the condo. You hit it right on the head.

Lakelander, the article is a little skewed. I went to the meeting and my dad was one of the major advocates of defeating it. Being on the development board for over 20 years, he knows these things. People want the island cleaned up, not a high-rise there. Small development like a restaurant and small boat docking facility would not be opposed in AB or private homes on the nothern portion of the island would be good. I urge you to look at the island in person though before making assumptions. You will get the full picture. The entrance is the side road heading west on Atlantic Blvd. before the bridge.

The area on Mayport Road will get cleaned up though so the view from the flyover will change. Check out the rest of AB too. There are some neat homes!

The abanded buildings on the island will need to be bulldozed as well because there are existing structures on the island.

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yeah, one of these days I'll have to go out and check it out. Really, I didn't even know an island existed right under the bridge, till you posted this article. I've noticed the side road, but I always assumed it went to a boat ramp or something.

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I have been going to Jax (well, Atlantic Beach) my entire life, and I didnt know that there was an island under there! AB has a certain flavor to it that you just have to experience. It is all residential, and thats what I like about it. You can walk on the beach and it doesn't look like most city beaches (like Jax Beach, Myrtle Beach, any other beach with highrises everywhere). Atlantic Beach has made leaps and bounds in the way it presents itself... 15 years ago those palm trees and nice medians and what not didn't exist on Atlantic. In all honesty it looked, well, kinda kruddy. Does anyone remember the Pick'n'Save? that was a wonderful store :) Anyway, as far as the height limit thing, I think that AB should enforce it. If someone wants to buld a condo complex or whatever, they need to conform to the rules, not bend the rules to their needs.

Also, didn't I read a while back that the Sea Turtle was purchased by another company?

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The old Pick N' Save has been transformed into a shopping center with architecture the style of South Beach in Miami. It is really dynamite looking with famous Jacksonville restaurant the Tree Steakhouse (Ruth's Chris caliber) as the flagship tenant. You should check it out and make sure to visit Town Center, with it's jungle of palm trees now!!

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