Hotel at Gulfport Marina?

What do you think about adding a hotel at the Gulfport Marina?

Gulfport City Council Member Christine Brown came prepared at Tuesday night's workshop. Brown not only suggested "big ideas" like adding a hotel and lighthouse restaurant at the Gulfport Marina, she brought props to help everyone visualize the plans.

“I don’t want to change the character of our city, but we need this if we’re going to enhance the marina,” Brown said as she placed empty boxes in order. 

Brown placed small boxes that represented the marina, BCYC, Gulfport Yacht Club and Coast Guard Building and then added a much larger box right in between the BCYC and Gulfport Yacht Club. That box represented a hotel.

"These people don’t have to move for us to fit a hotel there, it’s a boutique hotel," she said. Brown envisions a two-story "Key West"-style hotel with about 20 rooms or fewer. 

Brown joined fellow city leaders Tuesday night for a discussion about the Marina's Master Plan. Councilors are already showing support for a new ship store, boat lifts, and live-aboard improvements, which are included in next year's budget. Now, Harbormaster Denis Fran and Community Development Officer Fred Metcalf want council's recommendations for Phase II and Phase III of the Marina Master Plan. 

Brown also suggested building a water tower on Osgood Point and possibly building a Sailing Center that could be used by local yacht clubs. Brown emphasized that these plans should include a way to connect the waterfront to the marina.

"We have to get the people from one side to the other, the whole waterfront has to be an experience," she said.

Councilors Fridovich and Vice Mayor Liedtke agreed with some of Brown's ideas, such as the hotel. 

Vice Mayor Dan Liedtke added that if a hotel went up six stories, you could see the Gulf of Mexico. 

Mayor Sam Henderson expressed some caution about these "big ideas," saying, "one of the things they like about us the most is that we’re not Clearwater. I think we really want to make sure that whatever we decide to put, we’re maintaining our character."

Rather than a water tower, Councilor Jennifer Salmon said she would prefer a lighthouse. Salmon also included Clam Bayou restoration as one of her top priorities for the marina area.

Mayor Henderson said he would love to see an open observation deck instead of a water tower at Osgood Point.

The two-hour session allowed councilors to share and discuss what's on their "wish lists." Fran told councilors that if something was a "good idea," they'll find a way to make it work. Fran and Metcalf wanted to hear ideas Tuesday night. Details can be worked out at future meetings and workshops, they said.

At the end of the discussion, all five leaders were given five dot stickers to place by what they want to see at the marina. Fran and Metcalf wrote down all of the suggestions on large sheets of paper and taped them to the walls.

Here are the results:

  • Hotel: 4 votes
  • Clam Bayou Habitat Restoration: 3 votes
  • Complete Phase I: 3 votes
  • Restaurant: 2 votes
  • Sailing Center: 2 votes
  • Tie into the Waterfront Redevelopment District: 2 votes
  • Observation Deck: 2 votes

Ideas with one vote:

  • Linear Park
  • Pedestrian/Bike Trail
  • Water Fountain with Dog Bowl
  • Golf Carts
  • Traffic Calming on 31st

What do you think?

What do you think about adding a hotel at the Gulfport Marina? How about building a two-story observation deck at Osgood Point? What about adding a Sailing Center for multiple yacht clubs to use?

Feel free to attend the workshop or contact councilors with your feedback about the future of the marina.

Contact Councilors:

  • Mayor Sam Henderson: shenderson@mygulfport.us
  • Ward 1 Dan Liedtke: dliedtke@mygulfport.us
  • Ward 2 Christine Brown: cbrown@mygulfport.us
  • Ward 3 Jennifer Salmon: jsalmon@mygulfport.us
  • Ward 4 Michael Fridovich: mfridovich@mygulfport.us

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Mickey Birt May 24, 2013 at 02:41 PM
It sounds like a nice idea- as long as it's SMALL. Parking and tourist traffic is going to be an issue for those of us who live here.
Mickey Birt May 24, 2013 at 02:43 PM
even better- I wouldn't mind a small B/B over here, but this would definitely be better
Mickey Birt May 24, 2013 at 02:50 PM
I have lived in the Marina area for over 10 years. It is quiet and beautiful and I would hate for much development to ruin it. That said- I think a SMALL B/B would be nice but should be a private enterprise. Improving the marina itself with a bigger ship-store to serve not just the marina but the neighborhood would be great. Improving Clam Bayou park with maybe an observation tower/deck or some picnic tables would be excellent. The last time I was out there I found a broken walkway out into the water with no barrier or indication anyone was aware AND couldn't find anyone to tell- improving this park would go a long way to making our district more user friendly. More visitors to a nicer park means more potential revenue for our city.
CJ May 24, 2013 at 06:41 PM
The picnic tables are a very excellent suggestion.
mtober May 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM
I don't think the suggestion was for the City to run the hotel.
Bill Church May 25, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Visited the area again yesterday - Does the city own the USCG axillary building? If so that piece of property is perfect for a small hotel - great view, room for parking, access to the park - a short hop from downtown - plus lots to do in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties for the touristas.
Bill Church May 25, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Mtober - I hope you are right but nothing that I have seen indicates that is the case. And the fact that you say 'I think' indicates that the facts are not confirmed but certainly need to be!
BKL May 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Well, that is definitely the best way to take business away from the long term, small established businesses here. And that is exactly the draw Gulfport has. Exactly what it is. Go ahead, make it everywhere else. Clearwater replica here you come! The the shoreline drive that is called Gulf Blvd - I call it Condo Blvd, because that is what it is now. You cannot even see the gulf. UGLY. Yep, go ahead and start the slippery slope to kill the reason people choose to live in Gulfport. Gulfport being Gulfport is why I purchase a house to live her. Please note, not a house to rent out so that further chops up the beautiful community by having loads of people not attached to the community and the owners gobbling up several homes for their own "investment" Surly not a boon to the strong growth of a community. I own and live in the house. I am an invested participant in this town. Homeowners have to care. Renters and money makers do not. Yes, I know there are good ones out there, good people also, but fact is fact.
Bill Church May 28, 2013 at 01:19 PM
As I commented above - if the city owns the USCG building - put the hotel there - the view is already blocked to the home owners by the present building - a small hotel there with a bigger foot print (there seems to be plenty of room for expansion there) will not adversely affect any one and will give Gulfport another reason to visit us. Win - Win!
CJ May 29, 2013 at 01:27 AM
...and the fact there is a fabulous park there means nothing?
Bill Church May 29, 2013 at 03:38 PM
CJ - not sure what you mean! Yes there is a fabulous park there and the location of the USCG building and the open ground between the building and the bay offers plenty of expansion possibilities without infringing on the park. The park and the opportunity to interact with nature is one of the many attractions there and in nearby downtown!
CJ May 29, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I dunno Bill. To me, it's self explanatory. Or a case where someone can't see the forest for the trees. We go to that park often. It happens to be the closest park to us that we actively use, so this story especially caught my attention. It is so peaceful and quiet there. Have you ''ever'' enjoyed this park? It sounds like you haven't. If ever a park could be described as a ''hidden jewel''...this park would fit that description. A hotel there would obviously change all that. I agree that an improved Marina Store would be a very good idea, though. OK...I explained it to you more...but why could you not see these reasons already? It seems to me it is a no-brainer that putting a hotel there is not a good idea. Uh...what is wrong with it simply remaining as it is...a Coast Guard Auxiliary Station? I bet The Coast Guard agrees with me on that. Plus...a previous comment of mine on this asked why the marina customers are not simply encouraged to use a cheap Taxi ride to one of the already existing hotels, Band B, etc, that are in the general vicinity and even in the water front area of Gulfport . Taxi's are available 24/7/365, and that short of a trip would only be about $5. The above is only part of ''what I mean'', but I kept it brief for you.
CJ May 29, 2013 at 04:14 PM
If ''anything'' like a hotel is put there, I'd say maybe 4 rooms or so added to the "new, bigger, and better'' Marina Store, directly in the same parking lot and building as the Marina Store. Rooms that are basically just rooms to sleep in while in our area for a day or so. The rooms could be rented out by the marina and not for long term stays. But...even this idea ''still'' infringes on the business's of the already existing immediate area hotels, B and B's, etc, in the area that "already" deserve some promotion to help ''them'' obtain more customers. Aren't they the ones who deserve this sort of support? One thing is for sure. If indeed the USCG facility property is owned by the city, then I highly doubt the city wants to give up such a good customer.
Rob Fowler May 29, 2013 at 04:50 PM
We need a real hotel, and I believe we actually need a class resort. (Those would only help both our B&B's stay full, it is a very simple business formula. That is why you see a Home Deport and Lowes across the street from each other, they both win.) My first choice for a resort and conference center would be at the end of 49th Street South where those delapidated apartments now sit. We can keep downtown quaint and maintain the historic character of Gulfport without unrealistic and naive attempts to keep the rest of Gulfport from reaching any kind of prestige. We are not Clearwater Beach, but nor are we Ruskin, we are Gulfport Florida and have the waterfront potential to be a tempting vacation and corporate event destiination as opposed to a cheap half-day visit to eat a meal or attend a free festival. If I hit the Power Ball, you better believe I will buy every inch of lower 49th Street South and any waterfront I can get with that money and one day build something that even the most stubborn opponants to Gulfport's inevitable progress would ultimately be very proud of. Shall we decide how Gulfport matures ourselves, with true character, style, and taste, and solid value, or wait until some "U.S. Steel" snags the opportunity from underneath us and buys our land along with a new city council in three to four years like they did on Sand Key and ruin everything for us?
BKL May 29, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Yes, that is right, I would sure hate to ruin it here like Sand Key! Would hate to open that door, and this is a perfect way to do just that. Unfortunately I have never seen a Home Depot or Lowe's help out a small local hardware store. Should find out what the local businesses need, people who have been here, invested their savings here, their time day after day, late hours, weekends. See what they need. You already have super cool and beautiful places to stay at. Help promote them, they are what Gulfport is. Expand on THAT original concept. It draws people here, but you've got to let them know!!! I did not move here for a new bigger hotel. I love walking my dog in the evening and it is so uniquely quiet, so peaceful, so beautiful!!!! Please don't repeat what is up that Super busy Condo blvd along the hidden coast of the unseen Gulf. Just like "everywhere else". Please Capitalize on what we have. Put the efforts there first, like if it was a big corporation coming in, because I believe all of the small business together are the same value of that, if not more. Look at LocalShops1.com. What a forward grassroots moving group!! Well, I believe in what Gulfport is and has to offer and the people that have been doing it already and are doing it right now. And I believe in me and what I could offer the area. So special here, so cool. Having lived in Michigan, NC, Virginia, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and now here, I kinda got a little bit of experience behind me.
CJ May 29, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Rob. Your comment is easily the best one here. It is the kind of comment that can change people's position on issues and can promote not only change, but absolutely stunning results. The visual of what you present is what dreams are made of....and what a great dream it is you have. Up to now the discussion has been about simply building a better Marina Store, and also possible a new Hotel or whatever there also. Most people, even the neighborhood people, seem to agree the new, bigger, better Marina Store is a "good" idea...but talk of a hotel or whatever over there seems to have practically "zero'' support. Sorry, Bill C. Your idea, however...goes way beyond any of this talk. What an incredible idea you have here!! Based on numerous other Gulfport Patch articles, though, I would question if the water "swim quality" on Gulfport Beaches would meet the criteria of "class resort customers". I think that problem, however, could be addressed by a ''class resort swimming pool''. Personally, I do (or will) swim here, but like most..prefer the Gulf Beaches. We recently booked a weekend at a local hotel for the weekend, but discovered that Pinnellas and Hillsbourough county lack the type of pool found rather easily at many Orlando area resorts...the type of sprawling pools that all by themselves make your stay "memorable". That said, your idea could insure success for Gulfport that will last forever. I hope you win the Power Ball..lol.
Rob Fowler May 29, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Thanks CJ, I do have a vision, that's for sure. :) Funny that most Gulfportians consider 49th Street South as something to dismiss or even hide from. Yet I see it as one of Gulfport's greatest assets, yet undeveloped and a bit rough around the edges right now. 49th Street is one of Pinellas County's most important roads and totally blows away 58th Street and Gulfport Blvd. as far as future importance. We are at the waterfront south end of a highly valuable street that has the Bay Bridge on the north end and still goes north beyond as McMullen Booth. Today at our end of this powerful street is a very sad "Dead End" sign! The day we have something worthwhile at this end, development and improvements will start from both ends and meet somewhere around Tangerine. None of us want a "Gulf Blvd." (or "Condo Blvd." as was mentioned) along our waterfront, yet I'd be open to 49th Street South being all that, and maybe more. Why not? I hear people suggest we need a wall to separate us from St. Pete, how about we allow development up and down 49th Street South to become that wall. 49th Street South has value to St. Pete as well, and both sides could turn from ruin to proseperity given some time, a vision, planning, and some moolah from someone who recognizes how important this street is. A resort on the waterfront end of 49th Street South would set the gears in motion. Sorry, Beach Blvd., but one day new businesses coming to Gulfport will much rather be on this ol' road.
BKL May 29, 2013 at 08:35 PM
What we have here in Gulfport, all along downtown, all along Gulfport blvd, all along 49th St. S are businesses owners that have poured everything they have into these businesses. Money, time, sweat. This is where the attention needs to go. A Home Depot does not help a small business hardware store. Kinda shuts it down. The businesses already here are the ones that deserves to be asked, "What can we do to help you?". Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts that already exist, what can be done to help them? To advertise, the many unique small vegetable stores, the small BBQ smoke houses, the different cultures; beach, african, mexican, jamaican, greek.... on and on.This is who Gulfport is. It is what makes this community a unique community. It is why people choose to live here. Not a Condo Blvd (Gulf Blvd up the coast here) over build I can't even see the gulf, does it really exist? Does it look tacky on Gulf blvd here in Gulfport? Along 49th? Well, then there also is the area of needed attention. How is the entrances, and the business district of your super unique small businesses seen? Get together with them, make it more attractive, let the world know we exist in the very special way that you cannot get most everywhere else USA. The Hotels down in Gulfport are so unique and neat, and fun.. why risk hurting them? Expand upon support those for their own uniqueness that scream Gulfport!
Philip Penrose May 30, 2013 at 02:33 AM
It would be very easy for the city to get much needed feedback from the resort industry on the idea. Let the city work first on a city asset that is built and operating right on the beach - The Casino Ballroom. Is it a money-making industry?
philessense May 31, 2013 at 10:07 AM
BKL, I agree that we need to support what we already have. And, if a hotel is what the councilwoman wants, I suggest it go into the business district, i.e, downtown Gulfport, instead of destroying the Marina District neighborhood. Gulfport is not a Convention / Conference center destination. It is a lovely place to visit and live. And it is different from other communities because of the sailing and boating communities. Let's expand on our strengths instead of wasting money and destroying neighborhoods trying to become somewhere that we're not.
CJ June 05, 2013 at 02:01 AM
With all that ''experience'' you talk about where you have lived, you sound a little like you may have lived in Williams Park or at Mirror Lake also. Many of those residents are well traveled also. Bringing in some nicer businesses, especially a resort like hotel as Bob mentioned would only enhance the quality of the area and would not hurt the small stores one single bit. In fact, it would draw people to the area that like to spend considerably more money. I am sure all the shop owners would like that.
CJ June 05, 2013 at 02:01 AM
sorry...I meant Rob...not Bob
BKL June 05, 2013 at 11:46 AM
BKL June 05, 2013 at 11:50 AM
And have the existing hotels, bed and breakfasts, short term rentals been conversed with? Are they always full? Do they convey quaint artsy but upscale unique Gulfport? Or do they convey cheap short term rental to drifting people? What ideas have been shared, asked, conversed with these owner/operators to bring better tourist satisfaction of the small town uniqueness of Gulfport, to the area? First.
CJ June 08, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Rob...lol....they can put whatever hotel or resort they want in but I recommend it has a pool like this. Build it and they will come. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSze2hd1jXY
mtober June 08, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Perhaps the Patch could do some due diligence and ask Councilwoman Brown what she had in mind when she presented the idea.
BKL June 11, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Brian Derr June 13, 2013 at 12:56 PM
What is the reason some of you think we need a hotel and restaurant at the marina? I understand and agree that upgrading the marina to enable people to live aboard or stay aboard makes sense, but we have under performing event space in the Casino and need to upgrade the kitchen facilities, we have empty restaurant buildings on Beach Blvd, and we have small "botique hotels" already. If adding businesses automatically attracts visitors, why do we have empty space in town? It seems to me that adding competing businesses in the marina district could have three negative consequences: 1) keep visitors from going into town, 2) change the quiet character of the Clam Bayou nature preserve, and 3) make it more difficult to fill the empty business locations that already exist in town. I support modest upgrades to the marina, but none of the other development at this time. I do not see a credible argument that developing the marina district will bring more people when we have empty businesses in town. Furthermore, I bought in the marina district in part because of height restrictions and the expectation that the Council would protect the quiet nature of the marina district and nature preserve.
BKL June 14, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Thank you Brian! Some say build it and they will come.., just as you said and I, it is already built and sitting empty or half empty!! Once those have had attention, help and have been filled, then see what lies ahead. Building for the sake of building on hope.. is just a repeat of the same song and dance that has and is hurting all of Pinellas and beyond. And the reasons you and all the rest of us bought here to live, well, really why change what brings people here? The fact is, there are so many businesses of things to buy, it just cannot all be absorbed by the population. Look at cars. We already have cars. Why on earth are dealers populating the areas, tearing down existing business that maybe they could of used a hand instead? Look at all the resale shops, I mean there are a lot! Look at all the foreclosed homes, abandoned homes, the homes bought up for by investors. Building more of anything is redundant. Taking care of and helping what we have is important.
Lori East June 19, 2013 at 11:01 PM
I'm not pleased at all to hear of the possible removal of the USCG building/ There is a lot of history and good done inside that building, and natural beauty around it. It's disgraceful our City is rejecting Homeland Security, our retired & current Coast Guardsmen! Why do we need a hotel anyway? We have a hotel downtown, that can be reached by boat and land. Promote downtown businesses-leave the UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ALONE. Show a little respect & gratitude for their service!


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