ETM provided entitlement planning for this project; working closely with Gate Petroleum, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Rogers Towers, as well as architects Cooper Carry and ELM to draft the Master Development Plan for the Planned Unit Development.
A favorable ruling by the St. Johns County Commission on Tuesday paved the way for Gate Petroleum to move forward with a multi-phased renovation project for its signature resorts, the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and Lodge & Club.
The proposed rezoning to a Planned Unit Development was needed, according to Gate, because the Inn & Club was introduced in 1928 and the Lodge added in 1989, and the zoning on the properties is something of a mishmash. There are six zoning designations and various waivers throughout the acreage.
The official request was to rezone approximately 90 acres of land from Open Rural, Single Family Residential District, Single Family Residential District, Multiple Family Residential District, Commercial District, and Recreational District to PUD, to allow the redevelopment of the resorts.
Gate has argued that it is the only way to do the comprehensive renovation project.
There were lengthy presentations for — including that of former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, president of Gate — and against the project as well as hours of public comment in support of and in opposition to the plan.
Eventually, the commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the proposal, with Krista Joseph as the dissenter.
“I am in support of this; I am thankful for everything that the Payton family for all they do for our community,” Commissioner Roy Alaimo said just before the vote. “I think this is a major employer here. It’s very important. I am 100% behind it.”
Commissioner Christian Whitehurst said the presence of the resort has enhanced Ponte Vedra, and Gate needs the opportunity to modernize it and allow it to keep up with other top-tier properties.
“Nothing in that neighborhood is quite like the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club,” Whitehurst said Tuesday. “It’s always been different than the surrounding homes and residences.
“It would be, in my view, unrealistic to expect the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club to remain the same as it has been over the last 100 years. It has to grow. It has to expand, and it must improve to change with the times.”
The Gate-owned properties are expected to see improvements that include the complete renovation of the Surf Club and the construction of a new Sports Club with tennis courts and lap pool.
Future phases would include a variety of upgrades, including work on the Lodge property. That would include a renovated Fitness Club building as well as a parking garage and new pools.
Over the course of the five phases of construction — which could take up to 25 years — the Inn & Club could add about 100,000 square feet of resort space and 68 rooms. The Lodge & Club could add about 35,000 square feet of resort space and 20 rooms.
For those against the proposal, the biggest concerns seemed to be the lack of specific details throughout the PUD, the setbacks and issues with the measurement of building heights.
There was also opposition to including several lots at the northern and southern edge of Gate-owned properties that are currently single-family homes. Nearby homeowners are worried about what might become of those lots in the future.
Representing a property owner with a home on the border of Gate-owned property, local attorney Doug Burnett said the PUD was the biggest rezoning in Ponte Vedra in 30 years.
He also said that the PUD was too broad in scope without enough concrete details over the 90 acres covered.
“You will not have controls from this day forward if you approve the PUD,” he said at the meeting.