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Planning Board approves changes to Marco Town Center site development plan

Planning Board approved unanimously on Dec. 6 amendments to the site development plan of Marco Town Center, including changes to landscaping and parking. In the image, the new conceptual architectural rendering substitutes asphalt with pavers at one of the mall's entrances.

Planning Board approved unanimously on Dec. 6 amendments to the site development plan of Marco Town Center, including changes to landscaping and parking.

The vote comes after Marco Island City Council approved the initial site development plan (SDP) in June 2018 and following a new application submitted by representatives of the shopping mall in September of this year.

Certain areas of the plan were revised to meet city code, accommodate requests from existing and new tenants and to create a small, beach town aesthetic, said Chuck Borysiak, vice-president of redevelopment at Brixmor Property Group Inc.

"From Marco (Island) Brewery, we had cut their patio in half for parking and they didn't like that," Borysiak said. "We were able to give them back their patio."

The amended plans do not include a reduction in parking spaces, Borysiak said.

"We brought in beach plants, beach grasses, we added more bright colors," Borysiak said. "The goal is for it to be attractive enough for people to want to come into the shopping center and then really we want them to stay as long as possible."

Another update is the amount of green space available.

The mall reduced the area to be covered by pervious pavers and asphalt by 0.08 acres or 3,484.8 square foot and will replace it with grass land and open space, said Terry Cole, vice-president at Hole Montes Inc.

Planning Board approved unanimously on Dec. 6, 2019 amendments to the site development plan of Marco Town Center, including changes to landscaping and parking. In the image, the new conceptual architectural rendering adds louvers to provide shade and airflow.

City staff does not have concerns about the new SDP, said Mary Holden, senior planner of the city.

"We just have a few conditions of approval," Holden said. "Specifically, roof signs are not allowed, their sign package indicates roof signs so we made the condition."

"The other primary condition of approval, which was in the previous resolution, was maintenance of the pervious pavers as far as what is needed to be done in order for those to be counted as pervious." 

All parties involved are very eager to continue the project as they have started work on site under the originally approved permits, Borysiak said.

"We want to get as much work as we can get done before your high season," Borysiak said. "We are trying to do the minimum amount of work during that time frame because that's when the shopping centers are the busiest."

"We are not going to come and do everything at once [...] so it has less of an impact on our tenants as well as the community and our guests."

Edgar "Ed" Issler, member of the board, asked if the Marco Town Center construction will happen at the same time as the construction of the Publix at Shops of Marco. The grocery store chain is a tenant of both malls.

"It would be a travesty to have this plaza under construction when the big Publix is starting their construction," Issler said.

Borysiak said he has been in contact with the people in charge of the construction of the Publix at Shops of Marco.

From May:What’s up with the Publix on Barfield? Is it closing or not?

In 2018:Publix on Barfield Drive to be demolished, paving way for improved store

"They told us that they were planning on starting construction on their sites, I believe it is around May," Borysiak said. "So we committed to them that we would be out of their way completely by that time." 

The "big Publix" started with phase one of its construction when a retail area next to the grocery store was demolished earlier this year, said Brian West, media and community relations manager at Publix.

"It is still a full rebuild," West wrote in an email sent to the Eagle on Nov. 8. "This is just phase one."

"The work underway is part of phase one to help prepare for the site," West wrote at the time. "We’re excited to get the project underway and look forward to opening a new store for our Marco Island customers.”

West declined to tell the Eagle when the "big Publix will close and reopen.

Marco to prepare its comprehensive plan

The city may advertise in December a request for qualifications to begin preparing its comprehensive plan, Holden said at the board meeting.

It's been 10 years since the city has updated its comprehensive plan, Holden said.

"A comprehensive plan guides the growth of the community you are in and [...] those principles are developed from the folks who live here, who work here, who own businesses here, whether seasonal or full-time," Holden said.

The city will give planning consulting firms 30 days to send their proposals after the RFQ is published.

"So hopefully we are looking at mid to late January getting all those proposals in," Holden said. 

"There will be an internal staff review committee to review the proposals and then based on those reviews and rankings we will be bringing forward a particular planning consulting firm."

The city will subsequently work with the selected planning consultant to develop a schedule, Holden said. The schedule will include numerous public forums and hearings with residents, business owners and non-profits. 

"Ideally we want to get the bulk of the public input completed before the end of the season because we feel it is important to get the seasonal residents' input on where they would like to see Marco Island go," Holden said.

From there, in conjunction with Planning Board and City Council, the city will start developing the goals and objectives, Holden said.

"It would be nice if this would be completed a year from now, I'm not anticipating that to happen," Holden said. "It may rollover into the next budget year which starts on Oct. 1. [...] and that's OK because we don't want to rush it." 

"We want to make sure that this is done right, that it is done by the community of Marco Island."