MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort & Spa’s proposal to try movin’ on up to the east side of Collier Boulevard isn’t making all the neighbors happy.
The fear from one side of the street is the creation of a canyon of concrete with nothing but sky visible above. On the other side of the street, economics is the impetus for the 138,000-square-foot convention center, said Rick Medwedeff, general manager of the Marco Marriott.
MassMutual Financial Group, which owns the hotel property, made a promise to the community in 2001 not to build on the east side of Collier Boulevard and that needs to be upheld, said Bob Olson, who lives near the proposed site.
“In a stealth move, at a June 25 Planning Board meeting, without anyone’s knowledge, not even the Planning Board’s knowledge, they came back to do this again,” Olson said.
Who else but a big business could get scheduled to make a presentation to the Planning Board without telling the board in advance what the topic was? Olson pondered aloud.
The proposers never mentioned their contractual promise during the “sleuth Planning Board meeting,” he said.
The 2001 Planned Unit Development agreement states that the hotel is not to build on the east side of Collier Boulevard.
“That’s a hurdle that definitely needs to be addressed,” Medwedeff said. “The first phase of this was to get a sense of the appetite for reconsidering those restrictions.”
Creating jobs, increasing the tax base and a large overall economic boost for the community are among the reasons why Medwedeff said people may be more amenable to the idea than they were nine years ago.
There is a six-story building to the north of the proposed site and a five-story building to the south, so there shouldn’t be an objection to a four-story structure, Medwedeff said.
“Businesses feed off my hotel guests,’’ he said, alluding to restaurants, boating, fishing, retail and other area vendors.
The added conference rooms will increase tourism during the non-peak times, he said.
“It’s a win for Marco Island and beyond, for Naples, for Collier County and for the Everglades,’’ he said. “They really need the business.”
Consideration by the city of Marco Island is in its early stages, city planner Kris Van Lengen said.
A publicly advertised Planning Board meeting and two subsequent meetings before City Council are yet to be scheduled.
“I must confess that I’m anxious to see the Marriott proposal formally presented,” Recker said.
The Marriott brand would have a huge commercial benefit, while the expansion contributes more taxes, taking the burdens off others, Recker said.
The project could create hundreds of construction jobs and create 80 permanent jobs, Medwedeff estimated in preliminarily predictions.
“It will be a matter of millions and millions of dollars to the area economy,” he said.
MassMutual has yet to commit approximately $70 million to build the meeting space.
The 162 homeowners who signed the original petitions to restrict construction on the east side of Collier Boulevard aren’t changing their minds, said Olson, who vowed to represent them in 2001.
“I really do want to be a good neighbor. I don’t want to create the fire storm we created in 2000,” Olson said. “But this is black-and-white. We have to obey the laws. So should a big company.”
He and residents of San Marco Villas, as well as Royal Seafarer Condos, have backyard sunset views and sea breezes at stake, Olson said.
“I don’t have a desire to hear screeching cars and car horns 30 feet from my house,” he said.