DUNEDIN — Hopes are that construction will start on the proposed $30 million Gateway development project on the east end of downtown in the fall.

The city's Local Planning Agency on May 11 unanimously approved an ordinance that amends a development agreement for the project, which features 90 apartment units, a 79-room boutique hotel retail space and a food hall.

The amendment allows for an increase in apartment units, formerly set at 81 units, and the addition of 0.39 acres of property. It also includes the relocation of an existing stormwater pipe.

Dan Massaro, an LPA board member, noted a specific start date, Nov. 20, is envisioned for the project, which is at Main Street, Milwaukee Avenue and Skinner Boulevard

Hopefully, work will begin on development before then, said developer Joe Kokolakis.

"I've been waiting for the project for a long time," Massaro said. 

Kokolakis and his staff during the pandemic reanalyzed the project and recognized they were allowed an additional 12 apartment units by their calculations.

“Affordability was the issue because we had several large three-bedroom and actually very large two-bedroom units that weren't efficient, but they kept us to our 81-unit count and made sense at the time,” Kokolakis said.

They were able to take some of the larger two bedrooms and made two one-story, one-bedroom units.

Then they had three-bedroom units that they converted to one two-bedroom and one-bedroom unit, Kokolakis said.

"We were able to do that and generate an additional nine apartment units without changing the elevation of the building, the size of the building, the height of the building, the width of the building. Everything is the same," Kokolakis said. 

LPA board Chairwoman Diane Brand asked if the additional parking spaces provided will be used for public parking.

"Everything on the surface level whether it's under the apartments or the surface lot kind of on Skinner (Boulevard) behind the apartments or Soggy Bottom (Brewery) will all be public parking I guess technically for the patrons of those businesses," he said.

The lower level parking is going to be exclusively for motel guests and the residents of the apartments, Kokolakis said.

The ordinance goes before the City Commission on June 9. Kokolakis said he hopes to have all approvals done in August.

As far as construction, under the best-case scenario, it will take about 24 months. That's with having crews concurrently finishing up the hotel and apartments, Kokolakis said. He doesn't plan on opening one before the other.

Kokolakis said that "everyone has limited resources, and everyone has limited access to materials and things like that."

There was no public comment on the project. Brand said Kokolakis has been very patient.

"It's been a number of years that it's come before us and hopefully we can try one more time to help this guy out and get this thing going," LPA board member Steven Sandbergen said.

In other matters, when staff was asked about the status of development plans for what's known as the Ocean Optics property, at Main Street and Dunedin Douglas Avenue, city Economic, Housing Development and CRA Director Bob Ironsmith said there is not a new owner yet.

"We expect something to close later this month, frankly," he said.

There are no concepts for city officials to share at this time, he said, and staff will be meeting with the new owners in the next couple of weeks.

"It's obviously a key piece in the downtown," Ironsmith said.