Hotel Expansion Debate: St. Pete Beach Grapples with Its Future


In a dramatic turn of events, St. Pete Beach residents found themselves at odds over the proposed expansion of the Sirata Beach Resort, sparking a contentious debate that lasted well into the night.

The hotel’s owners had set their sights on a significant expansion, envisioning the addition of two new establishments—a 10-story JW Marriott and a 9-story Hampton Inn—bringing a total of more than 600 hotel rooms to the area.

However, local neighbors were quick to voice their opposition, expressing concerns about the potential loss of the city’s charm, increased traffic congestion, and the specter of over-development looming over their beloved community.

Vince Sullivan, a concerned neighbor, encapsulated the sentiment of many residents, lamenting, “Pave paradise put up a parking lot, here we go again, nobody learns. We are here trying to preserve the charm and simple town nature of St. Pete Beach. This is a generational decision.” As the discussion unfolded, tensions soared, with city commissioners grappling with the weighty decision before them.

After an extensive 10-hour meeting spanning Wednesday night into Thursday morning, city commissioners remained deadlocked. Despite exhaustive scrutiny and passionate appeals from all parties, the decision was postponed. While city staff recommended approving hotel permits, commissioners deferred, citing the need for more discussion.

Hotel representatives outlined potential community benefits, such as dune restoration and improved public beach access. Attorney Elise Batsel underscored the addition of a public access point, ensuring unimpeded enjoyment of the beach.

Amid heightened emotions, the commissioners tabled the decision. Further discussions and a final vote are slated for Tuesday, February 27, at 6 p.m.