Florida Keys News
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Peary Court developers reveal new designs
Planners dumped first application after HARC panel showed dismay

Developers behind the massive redevelopment of Peary Court, which Balfour Beatty and the Navy sold to a private firm for $35 million in August, will return to Old City Hall on Monday with a new set of designs for the Old Town parcel.

More than a year ago, the same developers yanked their plan for a 208-unit redevelopment moments before the city's Historic Architectural Review Commission (HARC) was prepared to unanimously deny it.

The new owners, White Street Partners, which includes Everett Atwell and Nelson Stabile, have waited nearly three years to begin work on the largest real estate project on the island since the redevelopment of the Truman Annex in the 1990s.

The purchase went through Aug. 30, but the groundbreaking isn't on anyone's calendar yet.

White Street Partners must cross the first hurdle in the process on Monday evening -- asking for approval of 160 new homes, plus 48 affordable housing units, across the 24 acres. Its representatives will ask a city-appointed commission for permission to begin demolition of the homes that were opened up in recent years to civilians.

A "medium" home runs at 2,000 square feet with two stories, three bedrooms and bathrooms and a den, while a "large" home ups the square footage to 2,200 with the same number of rooms.

Cottages will span 900 square feet, 1.5 stories and two bedrooms

White Street Partners has hired Critical Concerns Consultants, led by Jim Hendrick, to make a second pitch to the Historic Architectural Review Commission at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St.

Last year, developers received a litany of criticism for their first set of plans when they first approached HARC on Feb. 12, 2013. In the end, planner Donna Bosold, a former HARC board member, withdrew the application rather than risk a denial from the panel, which oversees the city's historic preservation regulations.

HARC members were dismayed by the proposed designs, saying they didn't fit into the historic district guidelines at all.

White Street Partners responded by hiring a new architect, Zysovich Partners of Miami. Its architects vow to help create a new community of mostly single family homes that will blend into the historic fabric of Old Town Key West.

A contingent of neighbors who live on the streets bordering Peary Court have been scrutinizing the plans.

"It looks like a prison camp," wrote Lee Dunn, who lives on Florida Street, in a two-page letter to The Citizen. Dunn called the buildings "particularly shocking in both size and scale," noting the plans call for a water tower, swimming pools and all new roads.

Dunn said the interior of the new Peary Court appears quiet, "almost park like," while the density of the housing and noise of the common areas is "foisted on those of us" who live around it.

"Not to mention the fact that the construction phase of this project will be 10 years," Dunn wrote. "Ten years of noise, debris, dirt and dust on the scale of the Roosevelt Boulevard project for everyone in the vicinity to endure."

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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