Representatives of the Richman Group of Florida have made it apparent that they would really like to put a mix-use residential and commercial development on the Firmenich Citrus Center property on State Road 590.
After receiving strong reactions from city commissioners and residents regarding the initial proposal, the developer went back to the drawing board to make amendments they hoped would help alleviate the community’s concerns.
This week, the latest such changes were announced, with Richman agreeing to file a revised proposal that would reduce the potential commercial development on the property, from 37,900 square feet to a maximum of 25,000 square feet and limit the height of the general office use buildings to one story.
It also agreed to limit the residential density to 276 units, down from the original number of 296.
“I spoke with several residents after the last workshop, and since then I have been trying to sift through all the comments and suggestions to come up with a proposal that works for all parties,” Richman Group associate Damon Kolb told Patch.
“There were several specific concerns regarding the commercial application of the proposal, so we wanted to address those by requesting less intensive commercial development on the site.”
The amended proposal will also include a traffic study to be paid for by the developer, based on the lower density of the commercial and residential components of the plan.
While there has been much debate over every aspect of the planned development, Kolb believes his company's proposal will benefit the entire community.
“I think there have been many misconceptions about this proposal from the beginning,” he said. “It goes back to the fear of the unknown.
“I plan on doing a better job of refining my presentations in order to clarify all concerns."
Because the amended proposal contains adjustments to the proposed land use and zoning of the property — from residential, office and retail to residential/office and general office — the whole process must begin anew.
“If they want to amend the proposal and change the land use, we must start the process all over again,” community development director Matt McLachlan said.
“That would include going before the Planning & Zoning board again and holding public hearings before it went before the city commission again.”
The next Planning & Zoning Board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 9.
Kolb said these types of situations are common whenever a developer is proposing changes to the existing structure of a community.
“Any time there is change, there are issues,” he said. “Here, you’re talking about a pocket of Pinellas County that hasn’t seen residential development of this size in 20 years.”
But he also believes his company’s proposal is far more favorable to what is there now, and what could be built on the land in the future.
"If a large commercial development is allowed to go in there, it will have an even greater impact on the community."
“We’re protecting wetlands, keeping the development away from the neighboring communities and clustering the buildings towards the center of the property,” he said.
“We are checking all the boxes as far as what needs to be done, and we’re hopeful that everyone will judge us by what we’re presenting and what we will be required to do.”
Previous Firmenich Coverage on Patch:
- Commissioners Respond to Alternate Proposals for Firmenich Property
- Reader Spotlight: 'Renters Have No Permanent Loyalty To the Community'
- Developer to Present Alternate Proposals for Firmenich Property
- Reader Spotlight: 'Growth May Be Threatening'
- Commission Concerns Could Derail Firmenich Deal
- Community Reacts to Firmenich Property Decision
- Community Members Voice Opinions On Firmenich Property Proposal
- Residents Prepared to Speak Out On Firmenich Property Proposal
- Commissioners Split On Firmenich Property Proposal