Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Resort gets OK to add hotel rooms
City making no promises about transient unit allocations

MARATHON -- While Tranquility Bay Resort was recently granted a permit to build 16 new one-bedroom hotel rooms, the Marathon City Council went out of its way during last week's meeting to ensure that the principals understood it wasn't making any promises about the 100 transient units the city will distribute in the coming months.

"I want to make it clear that the city has not guaranteed anything else by approving this conditional-use permit," said Councilwoman Ginger Snead.

Pritham Singh, owner of Tranquility Bay Resort responded, "The city staff has made it abundantly clear that 'this' and 'that' are not connected. It has been repeated to me like a mantra."

While Tranquility Bay Resort has received the conditional permit, it must still acquire 11 transient units. Transient units are the rights to build or rent hotel or motel rooms, RV lots and campground sites -- any accommodation available by the night. The resort has five transient unit rights that it can apply to the project, but must get the others either by transferring them from another property, buying them on the open market or applying for some of the 100 the city has to dole out.

The lump of transient units were awarded to the city of Marathon by Gov. Rick Scott at the beginning of the year.

Singh told the council that he needs the one-bedroom hotel rooms because he's losing customers that don't want to stay in Tranquility Bay's suites. He said he's lost some government business that requires a keyed locking door between colleagues traveling on business or simply a husband and wife on a short stay that don't need, or want to pay for, extra amenities such as a kitchen.

The work will be on the southwest corner of the resort and entails remodeling four existing buildings including a large, unused meeting room that has been converted to storage space. A second story will be added to two of the three buildings. City staff and the planning commission both approved the conditional-use permit.

At the city meeting, Snead asked Singh if the project would proceed even if the resort didn't receive any of the 100 transient units. Singh said he wasn't sure.

"I want to be ready to receive a grant [of 11 transient units]. I anticipate that you will have a fair plan where you evaluate the whole criteria and that we would be able to compare well [to other applicants]," Singh said. "If you say no, that's 100 percent your choice. I understand that you can't and are not making any commitment to me. It's my risk."

smatthis@keysnews.com

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