DUNEDIN — City commissioners gave final approval Thursday to one of the largest apartment complexes in this community’s history.
The three-story building set over ground floor retail will be built on a lot across the street from Mease Dunedin Hospital that’s sat empty for five years.
City planners say it also will extend Main Street’s retail corridor eastward and bring more foot traffic downtown with 124 apartment units.
City commissioners approved the final development agreement, design plans and a 25-year ground lease with Ohio-based developer Pizzuti, which had previously planned to build an office and retail center at the site.
Under the agreement, Pizzuti will lease a city-owned section of the land for $998,000 annually, with payments rising each year to account for inflation.
City Economic Development Director Bob Ironsmith said the project is expected to generate $125,000 a year in property taxes for the Dunedin’s Community Redevelopment Agency as well as nearly $50,000 in retail tax receipts.
The project is expected to begin by August 2014, with completion within a year.
“I am ready for you to put the shovel in the ground so I won’t talk and delay it anymore. Welcome to Dunedin,” Vice Mayor Julie Ward-Bujalski said to Pizzuti representatives who were present at the meeting.
The $15 million project went through several delays as the economic recession soured plans for an office complex.
The reworked project has been in the works for the past year, going through numerous public hearings where some residents expressed worries about parking and the prospect that the large building would dwarf the city’s collection of single-story retailers.
No opponents appeared at Thursday night’s meeting.
“We’ve been at this for a long time. As the good market was starting to slow down and the bad market came, these folks weathered the storm,” Mayor Dave Eggers said. “I think it’s certainly something our downtown is needing and looking for.”
The city made some concessions to the developer, including waiving a requirement for a 10-foot setback for each story above ground level.
City planners said the mix of porches, varying rooflines and insets on the exterior of the complex prevent the tall building from creating a canyon effect along Main Street.
The city also will give developers about $420,000 in incentives in the form of breaks on various permit and impact fees.