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Developer to Present Alternate Proposals for Firmenich Property

The Richman Group of Florida will present two alternate site proposals at the next Safety Harbor City Commission meeting Monday, Nov. 19.

According to city officials, property developer the Richman Group of Florida will present a pair of alternate site plans for the Firmenich property at the next Safety Harbor City Commission meeting.

After learning that many members of the community, and some commissioners, were against the development as originally proposed, the city went back to Richman representatives and appraised them of the situation.

Rather than back out of the project, as was originally expected, Richman decided to revist its plans and come up with alternatives to present to the commission.

"Richman (Group) will be presenting two alternate plans based on the feedback received to date, both from the residents at the P&Z Meeting and the City Commission," City Manager Matt Spoor said via email.

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Previously, everything from the height of the apartment buildings (four stories) to the number of units (296) to the immense traffic problem such a development could create gave citizens and commissioners pause as to how — or whether — to proceed with the project.

“The two items I would like to see addressed are the height and the traffic,” Commissioner Cliff Merz said at the commission meeting on Oct. 15.

But contrary to previous reports, Spoor said the developer will wait until after the commission workshop to authorize a traffic study.

"There was no traffic study done. The City received three quotes and Richman choose to wait until after the workshop to authorize the study.

"Part of the reason for this plan is that all three plans, the initial plan and two alternates, vary in total units," he added. "The traffic study scope could not move forward with(out) the exact amount of planned units."

During that Oct. 15 meeting, Mayor Andy Steingold openly questioned the practicality of going forward with a project that had so much opposition in the community.

“I believe at this point they are expending money to move this project forward," Steingold said, "but I am deeply puzzled with continuing to proceed with the project."

After a lengthy discussion, city officials took the concerns to the Richman Group, which led to the revisions of the original proposal.

NOTE: This issue will be discussed at a commission workshop beginning at 6:00pm on Monday, November 19 at City Hall. The regular city commission meeting will take place following the workshop at 7:30pm. 

Robert Saltzman November 15, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Do me a favor dig me up in 15 years so I can see what this has become. Or if I am still around I can say "told you so". Tenement housing the way of the future? Sorry to be such a skeptic but growing up I watched a thriving neighborhood turn into a plethora of crime and despair. Concerns over height, traffic will be hurdles that can probably be worked out. I have also been asking myself about the land itself. Have there been any soil samples analyzed? This has been an industrial site forever, what has seeped or been dumped into the ground? Just sayin!!!
Jeffrey Rosenfield November 15, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Good point, Bobby, about the soil. I will find out about that. It should be interesting to see the new proposals on Monday. They could either make or break this project right there. And we won't have to 'dig you up' in 15 years - you'll still be around!
Harborite November 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM
It is interesting that only about a month ago, the Richman Group stated that they would not build anything less than their proposed 55ft., 4-story apartment building. When residents opposed this large scale development, they created not one, but two separate alternative proposals. The Richman Group also stated that they expected to get $1,000 per month rent for a 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom apartment. This is obviously not a true market rate for Safety Harbor rental apartments. I know of no landlord getting that amount of rent for a 1/1 apartment. It appears that the Richman Group will say anything in order to get this highly profitable project approved here. I also grew up near large apartment buildings. They attract lots of transient tenants who have no stake in the community. Eventually the building ages and declines. The quality of the tenants then declines and these apartment buildings usually end up having issues like crime and drug dealing. When the landlord can't get the high rents that they want, they lower the rent and start accepting Section 8 tenants and this leads to problems. We will also have to pay to bus and educate all of the children living there. This proposed large scale apartment building will eventually lead to a decline in the adjacent neighborhood and it will ultimately be an expensive and costly mistake for the City of Safety Harbor.
Steve November 16, 2012 at 10:46 AM
I also do not want a large 296-unit apartment building in Safety Harbor. The height of this apartment building and the traffic that will be generated are only part of the problem. Apartment buildings that are lived in by hundreds of renters will become a problem for that area. Over time you will start to see crime and many other issues there that involve the police. There will be moving trucks constantly going in and out of there. This area will become a continual headache for City officials and for the neighboring community. It will also change the look and character of Safety Harbor. Everybody should call or e-mail our City officials and tell them that this is not what we want on the Firmenich property.
Sunde Farquhar November 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Great article, Jeff! Thanks for continuing to keep Safety Harbor residents informed about this project. Clearly there is a lot of interest.

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