More Competitive LBK Real Estate Eyed


The town commission and the planning and zoning board in Longboat Key are considering major policy changes to help the island’s competitiveness in the real estate market in the years to come.

Among the various changes that the town authorities are considering are ways on how to allow the redevelopment of existing island properties with larger and more marketable housing units. The root of the problem for Longboat Key is the tight restraint on development that the town adopted by public vote in 1984, which among other things resulted in luxury condominium residences built with lower density (less units per acre).

Addressing the density issue

More Competitive LBK Real Estate Eyed

Eventually, rebuilding was approved in a 2008 referendum in the island but the stringent limitations essentially remained. Existing units may only be rebuilt to the same size and ceiling height and proportion. Many Longboat Key commissioners find this is as too constraining to redevelopment.The nonconformity to this building standard is a black mark for Longboat Key in the real estate industry, according to Planning and Zoning Director Alaina Ray.

Hearing the word nonconforming, a developer is prone to lose interest and not even check on Longboat Key’s building codes even as redevelopment is allowed in the island, Ray said. To remedy this situation, town charter amendment will be explored to grant the LBK commission some authority to allow density increases which at present can only be made possible by public vote. Increasing allowable building height is also being considered, possibly through a town referendum.

Going underground

A significant boost to Longboat Key real estate can also be realized if island voters approve in a scheduled referendum in March 2015 a project to move underground the overhead electrical wires and fiber optic cables along Gulf of Mexico Drive. Besides improved aesthetics as a result of eyesore overhead electric wires, undergrounding of wires and cables is also deemed safer than the conventional overhead installations.

Undergrounding is now standard practice in new developments and many densely populated areas. This practice is particularly beneficial for coastal communities like Longboat Key where salt builds up of on regulators of aboveground electric lines which can eventually cause power spikes and fluctuating electric service.

Burying wires in more neighborhoods

A total cost of $19 million has been estimated for undergrounding power and cable utilities in the 10-mile Gulf of Mexico Drive. This amount also includes costs for a new fiber optic backbone and for replacement of the standard FPL white lights in the roadway’s entire stretch with new light poles used to improve aesthetics in upscale communities.

Longboat Key voters will also decide in March of 2015 if they will authorize issuance of a $5 million bond to help residential communities off of Gulf of Mexico Drive who may want to bury their electrical lines. With this bond approved in the referendum, neighborhoods which like to bury their power lines can then organize and petition the town to use its bonding power as a financing tool to be paid back through neighborhood tax assessments.