St. Augustine Commissioners Grant Preliminary Approval for Controversial PUD in Historic District
St. Augustine City Commissioners granted preliminary approval on a very controversial PUD in a 4-1 vote, which will allow for the conversion/renovation a historic property into a upscale boutique hotel (30 rooms), guest parking (26 spots) and a small bar/tavern (limited to 20 seats) on the site of the former Dow Museum of Historic Houses, located in the historic district of the nations oldest city (Cordova and Bridge Streets). The meeting was so divided, that it ran until 1:00 AM on Tuesday morning.
Locals remain torn on the topic. One side hates to see big-spending developers take on historic projects, fearing that they place a higher regard on ROI than preservation. Residents are so passionate about the issue, that lawyers have been hired to fight the issue on their behalf. Additional concerns relate to increased traffic and parking, as the site is in a residential neighborhood. Residents and locals have 31 days to appeal the decision, which is likely to occur, with this being a very high profile debate that has been going on for over a year. The developer, David Corneal, cites that in order to preserve the buildings, which date back centuries, the project must make sense financially, or nobody will take it on.