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Neighbors express concerns about resort's planned expansion in St. Pete Beach

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, TradeWinds Island Resorts will host a community meeting about its planned expansion
TradeWinds Island Grand WFTS.png
TradeWinds WFTS.png
Posted at 7:21 AM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 23:28:34-04

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Hundreds of new rooms, a bowling alley for kids, new pools with slides, parking garages, a plunging waterfall, pedestrian walkways and public beach access.

All are features TradeWinds Island Resorts — which caters to tourists from the Northeast and Midwest as well as locals — hopes to add to its sprawling resort property between the beach and Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach.

Joe Smith, a managing partner with TradeWind’s ownership group, 1754 Properties, said the “upscale” expansion will allow the resort to serve the next generation.

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“The expansion is really a natural next step for TradeWinds, right?” Smith said. “The infrastructure is aging. The buildings are older. The market demand is really telling us that there’s more demand than we can supply.”

If approved by the city commission, the expansion would include 650 rooms, conference space and a ballroom, three new parking garages, several new swimming pools, and more. It's estimated to create a $19 million economic impact and hundreds of jobs.

“The buildings are being designed by a renowned architect who has designed many luxury hotels for Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton,” the resort’s website explains. “The property will be upscale and a stylistic fit with the TradeWinds known and loved in the community.”

TradeWinds renderings2.png
TradeWinds renderings.png

Some neighbors, however, have concerns about the large expansion. Adrian Petrila, who moved to the island several years ago, launched an online petition in opposition to the expansion, which already has more than 1,300 signatures.

Thursday night, TradeWinds will host a public community meeting in cooperation with the city to share information and answer questions about the project. It’s set for 6:30 p.m. at TradeWinds (5500 Gulf Boulevard). Petrila plans to be there to voice his concerns.

“Well, the concern is over-development, right,” he said. “It’s going to create constant, non-stop traffic, noise, and congestion.”

Particularly, Petrila fears Gulf Boulevard — the main road through St. Pete Beach — will be negatively impacted by the resort’s additional capacity. Existing traffic congestion is already difficult to navigate during peak season and holidays, he said.

“Well, the challenge is we live on an island, right?” Petrila said. “So, we only have two entrances. You have two bridges — one on either side — and there’s only one Gulf Boulevard.”

The resort, however, believes those fears are unjustified.

Smith said the project will improve the overall community by making the existing property more upscale in appearance, adding a public beach access, and taking traffic off Gulf Boulevard through better engineering.

“We are essentially building a wider sidewalk, so there’s more pedestrian traffic. We’re reducing the number of entrances and exits onto Gulf Boulevard from 9 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.),” he explained, in part. “We’re building an internal ring road that circulates our traffic on our site instead of Gulf Boulevard. So, we’re really doing everything we can to keep traffic off Gulf Boulevard.”

Still, Petrila has doubts.

“The question is, do residents mind development?” he said. “I don’t think they mind development as much, but they just don’t want to become the next Clearwater Beach or Miami.”