County should approve hotel proposal
I am writing to share the Flagler County Chamber’s support for Salamander Hotels’ proposed expansion and renovation of the Lodge at Hammock Beach Resort.
Salamander’s proposal is not about conservation or clearing acres of undeveloped land to build something new. It’s about renovating and expanding an existing property to bring it up to world-class standards. Approval of this project will not only benefit the Hammock, but Flagler County as a whole by generating and preserving jobs, diversifying our tax base and boosting the local economy. And, from a tourism standpoint, the expansion will allow Flagler County to compete for lucrative conference business, raising occupancy rates, increasing bed tax collections and attracting upscale guests and future property owners to the area.
Here are a few more reasons why the chamber supports the proposal:
• Increased tax revenues. In its first five years, the new lodge will generate $4 million in new county taxes, and $6 million in new state taxes.
• Domino effect revenues. Flagler’s Tourist Development Council estimates that in addition to the revenues generated by the resort directly, an additional $55 million in ancillary spending — transportation, restaurants, retail, services, etc. — will be generated in the first five years of operations.
• Community Value and Quality. The new project provides the platform for the resort to preserve an important and profitable community asset, while addressing gradually deteriorating assets and facilities, and keeping pace with the property’s primary competitors that have already spent millions in renovations.
• Economic Engine. Salamander Hotels and Resorts’ confidence in and willingness to make such a significant investment in our area has the potential to encourage other investors to consider Flagler County for future investment.
The expansion and renovation of the Lodge at Hammock Beach Resort represents the kind of smart development our Board of County Commissioners should embrace without hesitation. This is the most significant economic development opportunity presented to Flagler County in years, and we are grateful that a well-respected partner like Salamander Hotels is willing to invest $72 million dollar investment in our community. As advocates for local business and economic growth, the Chamber urges commissioners to support this important initiative for the positive impact it will have on Flagler County’s future prosperity.
— Rebecca DeLorenzo is the president and CEO of the Flagler Chamber.
+ Proposed hotel violates the ‘perpetuity’ agreement
Lupert/Adler, a $19 billion realty trust and the sole owner of the resort at Hammock Beach, is proposing through its spokesman, Salamander, to rezone an area of the golf course for a euphemistically called “new lodge,” which is really two massive concrete buildings containing 198 hotel rooms, along with meeting rooms that contain 171,000 square feet, in comparison to the existing 45,000-square-foot lodge, an additional 126,000 square feet that takes up all the green space around it.
The Planning and Development Board recommended rejection of this proposal, but the Chamber of Commerce is aggressively supporting the hotel. The Flagler County Commission will meet to decide this issue on Jan. 12.
Lost in this conversation is the reason the plat restriction was put in place. The County Commission gave the 33 acres the Ocean Hammock Golf Course sits on to developer Lowe (Bobby Ginn was the head of development there) in exchange for wetlands in Malacompra and $1.7 million. Because of the extensive oceanfront property, many citizens wanted a guarantee that the golf course would never be developed for other commercial use and the plat restriction limited the golf course property to “golf or other recreation in perpetuity.”
A hotel/conference center does not meet this criteria, so Lupert/Adler wants to get it rezoned for “lodging,” which opens the door for future commercial building. In addition to the A1A Pride, the Hammock Conservation Coalition, the Board of Directors of the Phase 1 Hammock Beach Club, the Board of Directors at Sea Colony, the Board of Directors at Matanzas Shores, the Board of Directors at the Surf Club, the Board of Directors of Hammock Beach Estates, the Flagler Audubon Society, and the Environmental Council of Volusia and Flagler Counties all have voted against the project.
This is not an issue about Hammock Beach; this is an issue about the future of the Hammock. Despite the push from the Chamber of Commerce, this 10.2 acreage is the wrong place for this massive structure, as the Zoning and Planning Board ruled. It abuts the Hammock Beach Club, the North and South towers of Hammock Beach and the 10 Villa Buildings, a total of 513 units, an enormous group of building, with all the open space being used for the massive proposed hotel.
The County Commission represents the entire Hammock, as well as the county residents who use the public beach at 16th Road. Please let them know to save the Hammock and vote no.
Dr. Lynne Bravo Rosewater
+ Keep the Hammock green
As a native Floridian and Flagler County resident since 1999, I have previously applauded Flagler County for minimizing the clutter of hotels and condos oceanside. I also applauded them for preparing beach parks and accesses that are open for the people of Flagler County.
I moved from another county in Florida where the nuance of the old South has been almost totally obliterated, and I don’t want that to happen here!
Yesterday, I took a new resident of Flagler County to walk the walkways across the marsh at Flagler Beach, and then we headed north where I pointed out the beautiful parks like Jungle Hut and the nice beach access on A1A. She had heard of the Hammock Resort, but hadn’t yet seen it, so I told her about the beauty of the area and the fact that we, the people, had a beach access and park there. After a beautiful drive to the Hammock Resort, she was impressed with it and the park/public access provided the people and the “greenness” of the Hammock area.
While there, I learned that there is a plan to construct a 198-room hotel and convention center at 16th Road and the beach in the Hammock. That’s unthinkable! The Hammock Resort fits nicely in that area, but another hotel will not! It will “squeeze in” and cramp the public access to the beach.
In addition, it may deprive us of use of this access completely. Surely the Hammock Resort is sufficient for that area!
I urge the county commissioners to veto plans for further development in that area. I urge the people of Flagler County to contact their commissioners and voice their wishes. Let’s preserve what we have and not commercialize our county! Let’s save the beauty and elegance of the Hammock area! There aren’t many more areas like it left in Florida!
Elizabeth D. Williams
+ Developer only wants money
On Jan. 12, the Flagler County commissioners will have before them a proposal to build a major oceanfront hotel with 198 rooms replacing a golf lodge with approximately 20 rooms. The Planning and Zoning Board has already voted against the proposal. For any number of reasons — environmental, legal, equitable, etc. — the commissioners should summarily reject the proposal.
However, Salamander, the manager of the property and the front entity for money men Lupert/Adler, has put on a massive PR campaign based on half truths and veiled threats. I would urge the commissioners to see through this campaign and once again reject this proposal.
I hope the commissioners strongly consider whether the type of development, that has destroyed many parts of Florida, will come to this bucolic Hammock, which remains, at least until now, a unique area. Make no mistake: Lupert/Adler and Salamander care about one thing and that is money. Any effort on their part to wear the mantle of jobs and revenue for the community is a charade.
Currently, I am a part-time resident of Hammock Beach who plans to move there full time — unless, of course, the character of this area is changed forever.
+ Go elsewhere for hotels
My husband and I recently moved to Palm Coast. One reason we selected this area is for beauty of the untouched beaches, the peace, quiet and relaxation that everyone enjoys. I now understand that Salamander wants to replace the current 20-room golf lodge in Hammock Beach with a 198-room hotel and conference center.
We believe this project would destroy the tranquility and beauty of this area. There will be crowds, traffic and litter, not to mention the impact to marine environments and turtles.
We have to stop letting big developers control us by destroying all that is beautiful and simple in this world. If some people want a luxury hotel in their backyard, those places are available all over Florida’s coasts, and they are free to relocate. We need to think of the greater good, and not the developers. I, for one, do not want future generations to think we were selfish and just kept overdeveloping our beautiful lands. I want them to be thankful for people who preserved them.
Our children and grandchildren deserve to enjoy this lovely area the way it is now. If one hotel goes in, there will be more to follow, and the area will slowly be destroyed. We need to stand together and save our beautiful beaches! I encourage those opposed to this hotel to attend the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners meeting at 5 p.m. Jan. 12.