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Two excellent articles in today’s Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com, which you should be able to reach by clicking on these links:
In yesterday’s Citizen – www.keysnews.com:
Thursday, May 8, 2014 Add to Facebook Add to Twitter
Parrot Key Resort sells for $100M
BY TIMOTHY O’HARA Citizen Staff
A Pennsylvania-based hotel chain has purchased the Parrot Key Resort and Hotel in Key West for $100 million from developer Pritam Singh.
The resort had been on the market for four months and the deal with Hersha Hospitality Trust of Philadelphia closed on Wednesday, Singh said.
“Parrot Key and the Key West market possess very attractive investment characteristics,” Hersha’s CEO Jay H. Shah said in a prepared statement. “The hotel is a high quality oceanfront asset, independently managed and well-positioned in the market to leverage high rated transient demand. The controlled guestroom inventory and consistent year-round demand make Key West very desirable from an investment perspective. This acquisition increases our presence in South Florida.”
Parrot Key sits on five bayfront acres and is the most recently built waterfront hotel in Key West, boasting the largest rooms and the most oceanfront suites in Key West, Hersha officials stated in its press release.
The hotel charges an average daily rate of $230 and had occupancy of 92.3 percent in 2013. The Key West market is currently forecasted as one of the strongest growth markets in the country, Hersha said.
Parrot Key was fully renovated in 2012 and requires no immediate capital expenditures. The property will continue to be independently operated and managed by Northwood Hospitality, according to Hersha, which owns 50 hotels across the country.
Parrot Key is the third major resort in Key West to sell within the past year. The Southernmost Hotel Collection in Key West sold for $184 million in August. The Pier House Resort and Spa in Key West sold for $90 million in May.
Singh tore down the aging Hampton Inn hotel in 2006 to make way for Parrot Key, which was initially transient condos but later turned into a hotel complex.
“It is bitter sweet,” Singh said. “But that is what I do. I build things. I hold onto them for a while. And then I sell them eventually. They are like children. You watch them go off to college and you hate to see them go, but you know it’s time.”
After reading that, I told the angels that I’d have to know what Singh made on that deal, before I would be able to know how bitter and sweet it was for him. I also told the angels that no real Buddhist would live like Singh and his good friend and real estate and legal adviser Jim Hendrick live – they both say they are Buddhists. A real Buddhist, I told the angels, tries hard to live life correctly, reach enlightment and get off the karmic wheel, if not in this lifetime, then in the next lifetime, or in the next.
I would be surprised to learn there ever was a wild parrot to set foot on Parrot Key. I don’t recall ever seeing a wild parrot in Key West, or ever even hearing of one.
Singh and Hendrick brought Key West Truman Annex, which even today is resented throughout Key West and in City Hall.
That resentment has a lot to do with the city’s HARC (Historical Architectural Review Commission) and City Planner Don Craig’s determination to integrate tiny, quiet Angela Street into the new Peary Court development, the adviser for which is Jim Hendrick. HARC and the Planning Department have repeatedly stated they will not have another gated community in Key West, referring to Truman Annex.
Actually, Peary Court today is a gated community,
made so by the Navy when it built the housing now there. Angela Street residents had nothing to do with that. All they wish is to be left alone, and for having that wish, they are repeatedly maligned in public meetings by HARC officials and Don Craig.
I sent this email yesterday to Mayor Craig Cates and the six city commissioners:
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: FYI – HARC’s Peary Court integration into Angela St./Meadows
Date: Thu, 8 May 2014 14:45:53 -0400
Mayor Cates and City Commissioners:
Some Peary Court and Angela Street-Meadows thoughts following yesterday’s HARC meeting:
Perhaps City Attorney Shawn Smith needs to look over the developer’s real estate ownership plan to see whether or not the developer/Jim Hendrick have slipped in a way for the new Peary Court development to avoid paying local real estate taxes, by becoming a “successor” of real estate tax-exempt White Street Partners and its predecessor Balfour Beatty.
Maybe Donna Feldman made the developer really happy yesterday, when she got HARC Chairman Michael Miller to say the numerous new “cottages” will be part of the 208 new units in Peary Court, and not in addition thereto.
Chair Miller said he could not understand why Angela Street was continuing to dominate HARC meetings, even though he had led the previous Peary Court HARC meeting charge to get the developer to bring back a new set of plans fully integrating the new Peary Court into Angela Street and the Meadows crossing streets, something the developer did not even wish to do.
The way processing the new Peary Court development application has proceeded so far has resulted in the developer having to draw up three sets of plans, a lot of wasted city staff and equipment time, and a lot of unnecessary emotional upheaval in all quarters.
The new Peary Court development is being approached backwards.
The very first thing that should have been decided, before HARC even was gotten involved, was whether or not the new development would be integrated into Angela Street and Meadows crossing streets. Only after that was decided could the developer, HARC and the City Planning Department even know how to proceed with drawing up, reviewing and revising plans for the new development.
HARC member Janet Hinkle, City Commissioner Johnston’s appointee, said at the end of yesterday’s meeting that the City Commission should decide the Angela Street issue first. Brilliant, on Janet’s part.
The only way I know to bring that off is to start that discussion at a City Commission meeting. I understand from an Angela Street homeowner that City Commissioner Weekly will get that process started by putting Peary Court on a City Commission meeting agenda, for discussion. Hopefully, before the next HARC meeting on Peary Court.
Besides the quality of life arguments Angela Street residents and some Meadows residents are making against integrating new Peary Court into those neighborhoods’ streets, there is the matter of:
Policy 1-1.1.11: Historic Special Medium Density Residential (HSMDR).
The Peary Court area designated on the Future Land Use Map as Historic Special Medium Density Residential is designated to accommodate existing multifamily military housing properties at the time when the land and improvements are transferred to private civilian ownership and City jurisdiction. The designation is intended to maintain land use compatibility with the adjacent historic district. This designation is not intended to accommodate transient or commercial residential land use activities. The allowable residential density shall be a maximum of 8.6 units per acre. The maximum intensity of development shall not exceed a floor area ration (FAR) of 1.0 for all uses, both residential and non-residential combined.
The Land Development Regulations shall identify standards and processes to implement Policy 1-1.6.4,provide bulk and performance standards to implement the HSMDR designation, and assure compliance with all other goals, objectives and policies of the Comprehensive Plan.
The Historic Preservation Planner and the Historic Architectural Review Commission shall have the discretion to review redevelopment and new development impacts for mass, scale, size, proportion and screening to ensure compatibility with the existing community fabric. The Land Development Regulations shall be amended to include applicable review criteria for such historic architectural review standards.
OBJECTIVE 1A-1.2: DESIGNATED HISTORIC DISTRICTS AND LANDMARKS. To continue to ensure the stability, maintenance and improvement of designated historic districts and independently listed landmarks through: updating HARC Guidelines; evaluating the impacts of proposed development; providing incentives for maintenance; assessing adjacent land use compatibility; developing Transfer of Development Rights; prioritizing planning activities with historical preservation benefits; developing performance standards for protecting historic sites; reducing vehicular and non-vehicular traffic conflicts; restricting loss of City-owned historic properties and require preservation deed restriction; developing capital improvement programs which enhance historic areas; creating a master plan for the Key West cemetery; and preventing the increase or redirection of traffic onto the historic district’s residential streets, as specified in the following policies.
Policy 1A-1.2.15: Traffic Flow Considerations. All future traffic studies that involve the Historic District shall have as their prerequisite to prevent the increase or redirection of traffic flow onto “local residential streets” within historic residential neighborhoods.
Opening the Meadows crossing streets Pearl and Florida, which currently end at Angela Street, into new Peary Court will increase and redirect traffic flow into those residential streets in the Meadows historic residential neighborhood.
Thanks for you time and consideration,
1711 Seminary Street, several blocks across Truman Avenue from the Meadows and Angela Street
If HARC and Don Craig don’t want new Peary Court to be a gated community, they can require it to be integrated into Palm Avenue, Southard and Fleming Streets. the green arrow points to where Peary Court is. The roads outlined in red are the existing roads inside Peary Court. Angela Street is the small road next to Peary Court, running parallel to Newton Street, both ending at Eisenhower Drive, another public street. Fleming Street is the road running parallel to and between Southard and Eaton Streets. Eaton becomes Palm Avenue after it crosses White Street.
And, HARC and Don Craig can require the streets inside the new Peary Court development be public streets, instead of private streets, as is now planned. Angela Street is a public street. Every street in the Meadows neighborhood, which includes Angela Street, is a pubilc street. Palm Avenue, Southard and Fleming Streets are public streets.
HARC and Don Craig keep talking about running Meadows streets through Angela Street into the new Peary Court being democracy. HARC and Craig voted, that was enough. The true democracy is to have all public streets inside new Peary Court. I bet nearly every registered voter in Key West would vote for that.
Of course, that kind of integration into Key West is the last thing the new Peary Court developer wants. The foreign developer. The foreign greedy developer. The foreign developer who doesn’t pay real estate taxes. Maybe the developer claims to be Buddhist, too.
It keeps popping into my thoughts, if the City Commission does not step in and decide the Angela Street issues first, what will end up happening is what I witnessed at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting, when the waste pickup/hauling/recycling contract bid was discussed and decided – a heap of wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The Angela Street residents have a lawyer advising them now. They are not going to go away. And, Mayor Cates and four city commissioners already told the Angela Street residents that they are not okay with running the Meadows crossing streets through Angela Street into the new Peary Court. The mayor and the city commissioners will make that call in any event. Sooner is better than later for all concerned.
On last Tuesday night’s waste management wailing and gnashing, and Key West growing greener, in the ecology sense, in today’s Citizen:
Friday, May 9, 2014 Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter
Sustainability Board member resigns
Lybrand: ‘Cronyism’ at work in Waste Management deal
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
A founding member of the city’s five-year-old Sustainability Board resigned Thursday in protest to the city commission’s decision this week to award a $53 million contract to Waste Management over staff’s advice that it could save money with a new company.
“Indeed it is a gross step backward to the bad old days where political friendship trumps doing the right thing,” wrote David Lybrand in a letter to city commissioners and Mayor Craig Cates. “Hence I find that I can no longer be an effective contributor to this process.”
Lybrand, appointed by City Commissioner Teri Johnston to help start the volunteer board created to steer Key West to greener policies, said city leaders rejected the “long and hard-fought recommendation” by Utilities Manager Jay Gewin and the Sustainability Board “in favor of keeping an ‘old buddy’ around.”
In the end, Waste Management was awarded a deal that means an additional $14 million to the industry giant over the lifetime of the contract.
Gewin resigned the morning after the Tuesday night commission meeting, but said it was only about his decision to move to Seattle, where his family lives.
“I think anybody who has put in the amount of time and work trying too improve the sustainability of this community was devastated by Tuesday night’s vote,” Johnston said Thursday. “It’s the residents of Key West who will be paying $14 million more than they had to had we made a different decision.”
Lybrand didn’t attend the board’s Thursday meeting, but Chairman Michael larsen questioned the trash deal and the four members placed the matter on its June meeting agenda with plans to make a recommendation to the commission.
“When you put something out to bid, the logical decision is to accept the lowest bid,” Larsen said.
“The contract is done; it just isn’t signed yet,” said Will Thompson, the city’s recycling coordinator.
Instead, commissioners gave the seven-year contract to Waste Management in a maneuver that Cates and others said still followed the rules of awarding an invitation to bid to the lowest bidder.
The 4-3 vote handed Waste Management the city’s trash and recycling collection, and for the first time the city’s transfer station operation.
The bid to add the transfer station to the contract was an option staff and consultants advised against since it would add $300,000 a year to the present-day costs.
Another result of the push to ensure Waste Management kept the Key West job was to end the once-a-week curbside trash pickup that staff enacted last year in an effort to increase the island’s 7 percent recycling rate. Less than a year later, staff reported the rate of waste recycled had tripled to 21 percent.
Lybrand called it “the abject reversal of our now smoothly operating once-weekly waste pickup system that has done so much to improve our dismal recycling rate.”
Waste Management hasn’t had to compete for the city’s trash hauling contract since it first won the job in 1999.
Lybrand, originally from Jacksonville, owns a web design company and is a freelance writer in Key West.
The lone dissenter on the commission Tuesday was Johnston, who said the invitation to bid contract requires the commissioners select the lowest bidder, and that they were breaking their own rules.
Waste Management employees, nonprofit leaders, business owners and other Key West notables packed Old City Hall on Tuesday night in support of the company and its regional boss, Greg Sullivan. Sullivan, a Sunrise Rotary member and past president of the Key West Chamber of Commerce, argued his company delivered the lowest bid overall when taking into account the transfer station job.
On same topic in Key West the Newspaper today:
MAY 09, 2014
IMMEDIATE FALLOUT DUE TO CONTROVERSIAL VOTE ON NEW WASTE MANAGEMENT CONTRACT
by DAVID LYBRAND
David Lybrand, a founding member of the City of Key West’s five-year old Sustainability Advisory Board steps down in reaction to the City Commission’s controversial decision to disregard City staff’s and the adviroy board’s recommendations for awarding a new solid waste contract. Below is his resignation letter tendered to Commissioner Teri Johnston and the City Commission yesterday.
May 8, 2014
Key West Commissioner Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission
Key West, Florida
Tonight’s Sustainability Advisory Board meeting completes 5 years since you appointed me as a founding member of the board. I have participated in more SAB meetings than anyone and feel good about what the board has accomplished toward improving many aspects of our City’s sustainability, as well as its GREEN influencing on other actions the City has taken. I was looking forward to continuing to do what I can to help the City progress from its unsustainable ways.
However the action by the City Commission this week to grossly ignore the SAB’s – as well as City staff’s – long and hard-fought recommendation for moving forward on waste handling in favor of keeping an “old buddy” around have disheartened me (to say the least). The fact that the maneuver used to do so also killed a key WORKING sustainability improvement (the abject reversal of our now smoothly operating once-weekly waste pick-up system that has done so much to improve our dismal recycling rate) makes it even worse.
There is just SO MUCH wrong with this action. It has grossly stifled my belief in our City government’s ability to effect positive change. Indeed it is a gross step backward to the bad-old-days where political friendship trumps doing the right thing. I had really thought that we have moved beyond that here in Key West, but now I see that I was over-optimistic.
Hence I find that I can no longer be an effective contributor to this process. It’s bad enough to have SAB recommendations ignored for specious reasons (e.g., HARC’s refusal to accept the validity of white roofs), but when cronyism takes precedence over positivity, there’s little hope that the city will move forward. I cannot maintain my motivation to exert the effort required to perform on the SAB with such diminished hope.
Consequently, with enduring respect to YOU and to the other members of the Sustainability Advisory Board, as of tonight’s meeting I hereby submit my resignation from the board.
THIS ENTRY WAS POSTED IN LETTER TO THE EDITOR AND TAGGED KEY WEST, KEY WEST NEWS, KEY WEST REAL NEWS, KEY WEST THE NEWSPAPER, SOLID WASTE, SUSTAINABILITY, THE BLUE PAPER, WASTE MANAGEMENT. BOOKMARK THE PERMALINK.
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ONE COMMENT ON “IMMEDIATE FALLOUT DUE TO CONTROVERSIAL VOTE ON NEW WASTE MANAGEMENT CONTRACT”
SLOAN BASHINSKY MAY 9, 2014 AT 7:38 AM
How about HARC/the city’s aversion to the city going solar? How about cisterns for collecting rain water, at least for irrigation and washing cars, trucks, etc.? How about recycling the city’s treated waste water for irrigation and washing cars, trucks, etc., instead of injecting it into deep wells? How about mandatory recycling: for example, if a waste pick up crew sees a property owner did not separate garbage and yard waste and recyclables, the waste pick up crew doesn’t pick any of it up? Imagine the commotion the neighbors would make against their un-green, stinky neighbor?
I attended the city commission meeting. I felt weekly pick up should stay in place, because it encouraged recycling.
I felt what City Commissioner Tony Yaniz voiced: it turned out to be a mistake to put the waste contract out just based on price.
A citizen speaker said he was a financial numbers guy, and he’d been through Advanced Disposal’s financial statements, and they had lost money for several years through 2013, 2014 results not yet published; and they had a great deal of debt, and he wondered how they were going to pay it back? And based on Advanced’s financials, the city should not accept Advanced’s bid.
He said that after city staff had stated that Advanced Disposal had been investigated, it was a good, solid company, had a good reputation. No one from Advanced disputed his comments on Advanced’s annual losses and very large debt.
It sounded from a number of city staff comments that Advanced Disposal intended to use very large waste hauling trucks to pick up waste in Key West, and such trucks only have one operator, thus are cheaper to operate. A Waste Management representative said they have the same trucks, but intentionally do not use them in Key West, because of the narrow streets in Old Town.
Pressed about that from the dais, an Advanced representative did some hemming and hawing. Then, he said Advanced could use smaller waste haulers. The rub, it was said from the dais, Advanced would have to charge the city more to use the smaller haulers; the contract was negotiable if the city accepted Advanced’s bid.
Commissioner Mark Rossi made some commotion about Advanced’s bid being negotiable, AFTER it was accepted by the city.
Also, city staff said Advanced yard waste bid was considerably higher than Waste Management’s, and the more yard waste collected, the more Advanced would be paid than Waste Management would be paid.
What had bugged me for some time was the city was not, still is not, willing to pay to have yard waste composted locally. I said that during citizen comments, and that hauling yard waste to the mainland is not growing greener, and that I hope the city will pay more to have yard waste composted locally, and citizens can go pick up the compost and use it on their yards and shrubs. The city can do the same.
Then, there was the transfer station, which both companies bid to operate, or not. The bids were considerably higher for operating the transfer station, which some city commissioners said the city needed to get out of doing for various reasons – city employee safety, city liability, etc.
Perhaps with the transfer station, Waste Management’s bid was the low bid. It seemed to me that it was very close.
During citizen comments, I said, the city pays Ed Swift $500,000 a year to haul cruise ship passengers from the outer mole into Old Town, and which was more important? Hauling cruise ship passengers or garbage pick up?
I said, the people picking up our garbage are the most important people in the city. More important even than the Mayor, the Fire Chief, and the Chief of Police, for without garbage pick up, the city would have to be evacuated.
It does not look to me like the “un-green” company didn’t get the bid. It looks to me like this is all about money, and I’m not convinced Advanced’s was the lowest bid, with the transfer station thrown in.
And, I’m not convinced Advanced is as sound a company as Waste Management.
And, I’m not convinced that, if Advanced had gotten the bid, the cost of its services would not have increased during subsequent negotiations.
I hope the city does not use that method of soliciting bids in the future.
As someone pointed out during citizen comments, the city and FDOT went with the lowest bidder for North Roosevelt Blvd reconstruction, but the second low bidder, not all that much higher, as I recall the citizen’s comments, would have done the job in less than half the time.
In Citizen’s Voice today, my thoughts trail each quoted citizen comment:
“We successfully reduced the carbon footprint of trash pickup by 50 percent with a weekly schedule and you decide to toss the idea because some people don’t know how to wrap their fish for disposal. Until the businesses in this town begin recycling, our whole system is one big joke.”
Fish remains make great fertilizer. Instead of throwing fish remains away, take them to a designated city fish composting site. Oh, my bad. There is no designated city fish composting site. Or, take fish reains out to sea and drop them overboard and make lots of sea creatures happy.
“Great, now with the savings on trash collection, could we please attack the litter problem: create a litter crew or buy additional street cleaners or both. Enforce a strict fine for litter bugs. And, while we’re at it, make commercial recycling mandatory.”
Once upon a time, 2007, it came to me that the city could offer homeless people jobs as litter cops, dressed like pirates, walking around uttering pirate oaths at litterbugs, to encourage them to pick up their trash, including cigarette butts, and if that failed to get results, whip out a citation pad and give them a litter ticket. After I proposed that, a nationally syndiated radio show in New York City called and interviewed me live on the air. Then, other radio stations around the US called and interviewed me. No Key West or Florida Keys radio stations called and interviewed me.
“While out jogging Monday morning, a homeless man jumped out in front of me and started yelling and cursing. It scared and upset me so much I could not continue my run and returned home very shaken. This incident occurred in front of the bathroom located on Smathers Beach. I got home and asked my husband what I should do, and he said don’t run down there anymore. He also said another choice would be call the police, file a complaint against that person and face even more problems after he is released from jail. He is effectively keeping me from running down the walkway where I live. I hope one of these days the city leaders see that the homeless problem is getting worse and if something bad does happen, the city will have to assume the liability for letting them live on public property.”
Sorry about that. Alas, homeless punks have the same rights to be on public property as any other punks. In my experience, the best way to try to deal with aggressive punks is to call the police, assuming they are not all busy chasing suspected homeless people like Charles Eimers.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West