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Jul 282017
 
Pritam Singh's 175-Room "Ocean's Edge Hotel" Sells For $175 Million

by Naja Girard……. Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc. announced this Wednesday that it has purchased “the 175-room Oceans Edge Hotel & Marina on Stock Island for $175 million.” Ocean’s Edge Hotel has been an object of controversy in the Keys from the onset. It was pushed through as an upscale community consisting of “79 single family homes” and a small 17 room hotel. “It’s what we all want,” said developer Pritam Singh to the County’s Planning Commission, “to put our house by the water.” Each homeowner [continue reading…]

 July 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am * Featured Story *, News 9 Responses »
Jan 202018
 
City's Deregulation of Transient Licenses Will Reduce Residential Housing

OP/ED by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….. Hurricane Irma has left hundreds of people homeless in the Florida Keys. We wanted to know how the local government was handling the housing crisis. Officials seem genuinely concerned. They hold meetings and workshops on workforce housing issues. But clearly the problem predates the storm. Locals believe that, in recent years, too many residential units have been allowed to be transformed into vacation rentals. In this context we were surprised to learn that this week the City Commission voted [continue reading…]

Dec 292017
 
A Forgotten Era Remembered: Key West Art & Historical Society Presents “On the Waterfront: Truman Annex Artists” Exhibit at Custom House Museum

On Friday, January 12th from 6:00pm-8:00pm, Key West Art & Historical Society kicks off the new exhibit, “On the Waterfront: Truman Annex Artists” putting the spotlight on a relatively unaccounted for era of creativity that helped launch some of the island’s most celebrated artists. The Custom House Museum exhibit in the Bryan Gallery features historic and contemporary works from artists that rented space between 1974-1986 in the decommissioned naval warehouses, machine-shops, and residential facilities for use as studios after the U.S. Navy abandoned their base on the present-day Truman [continue reading…]

 December 29, 2017  Posted by at 12:16 am Issue #249, Special Events, What To Do No Responses »
Dec 222017
 
A Forgotten Era Remembered: Key West Art & Historical Society Presents “On the Waterfront: Truman Annex Artists” Exhibit at Custom House Museum

On Friday, January 12th from 6:00pm-8:00pm, Key West Art & Historical Society puts the spotlight on a relatively unaccounted for era of creativity that helped launch some of the island’s most celebrated artists in its exhibit “On the Waterfront: Truman Annex Artists.” The Custom House Museum exhibit in the Bryan Gallery features historic and contemporary works from artists that rented space between 1974-1986 in the decommissioned naval warehouses, machine-shops, and residential facilities for use as studios after the U.S. Navy abandoned their base on the present-day Truman Annex. [continue reading…]

 December 22, 2017  Posted by at 12:18 am Art, Issue #248, What To Do No Responses »
Nov 242017
 
ETHICS VIOLATIONS / “It's all Danny's fault if we lose.”

They lost. And he was off by over $2 million plus 333 other errors. by Rick Boettger……. Commissioner Danny Kolhage’s share of the $15+ million in reporting errors made by the most recently cited four county commissioners rung up with $20,000 in fines by the Florida Commission on Ethics was “only” $2,254,648, putting him a distant third to Heather Carruthers’ $7.4 million and David Rice’s $4.5 million.  But Kolhage was easily in 1st Place in errors of form, omitting 24 addresses and 309 entries on [continue reading…]

Mar 032017
 
OCEANSIDE MARINA: Bathroom-less Vacation Villas? The Hawk's Cay Inquiry Continues...

by Naja Girard……. Did a county planning manager, developer Pritam Singh, and a Hawk’s Cay HOA manager lie under oath to the Monroe County Planning Commissioners in 2014? They all swore that county records showed there were 12 unbuilt “leftover” hotel units at the Hawks Cay resort on Duck Key. “They are vested rights,” claimed Mr. Singh, who convinced the board to approve a transfer of those 12 hotel units to his new project at Oceanside marina. However, when The Blue Paper discovered that there were over 60 [continue reading…]

Feb 172017
 
Ocean's Edge: A Play in Four Acts

by Conch S. Fritter …….. County Commissioners appeared lost this Wednesday in the intricacies of their own laws. But for those who had followed the growing controversy over Pritam Singh’s Ocean’s Edge (175-room) Hotel the meeting looked like the last of the county’s many renditions of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The actors are real pros and they’ve played the part many times.

 February 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Island Voices, Issue #206, News 4 Responses »
Feb 102017
 
A Time-Bomb in the County's New Land Use Code?

Feb 10, 2017 Commentary by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….  Contrary to popular belief, adding one or two “lock-outs” to your home and renting them to tourists without getting any separate building allocations was legal after all! Developer, Pritam Singh, bless his soul, has shown us the way: He took 79 “permanent residential” building rights [called ROGOs] and transferred them to Oceanside Marina and, after adding 79 “lock-outs” and 17 hotel rooms, he’s now renting all 175 “units” to tourists. It could appear unlawful and it has upset a [continue reading…]

Jan 272017
 
Oceanside Marina Update 

by Naja Girard……. Oceanside Marina has now officially opened its 175-room “Ocean’s Edge” resort to tourists from all over the world. But there’s still no satisfactory determination as to the legal status of the operation. Is it a “175-room hotel” created without the 175 transient building allocations (ROGOS) required by law or is it a collection of “attached” condos prohibited from engaging in vacation rentals in that particular zoning district (Mixed Use – MU)?

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am News 3 Responses »
Jan 202017
 
Oceanside Marina: It's Getting Worse...

by Naja Girard……. The cloud over the new Oceanside Marina hotel is getting darker. For months questions have been lingering about the appearance of a luxury 175-room hotel on Stock Island when only 17 hotel building rights (called “transient ROGO’s”) were on file for the project (instead of 175). Well, things just got worse. There is good reason, this week, to question whether 12 of those lone 17 transient (hotel) ROGO’s even existed or whether they were created out of thin air using false documents. It [continue reading…]

Jan 132017
 
Oceanside Marina / Time for an Independent Opinion?

This article was updated on Feb 5, 2017 Editorial by Naja Girard……. For the past several weeks The Blue Paper has been reporting on the controversial new hotel that just opened at Oceanside Marina on Stock Island. “Have you seen this article?” asked Commissioner Heather Carruthers in an email to the Planning Director, Mayte Santamaria, “Are the premises correct? Have we been hoodwinked? Or do they not have all the information? I think this warrants a response.” This week Ms. Santamaria, produced a 22-page document. [continue reading…]

Jan 062017
 
Oceanside Marina Part Two:  The "Condo Wars"

by Naja Girard……. Just as we were wondering whether Pritam Singh’s soon to open “175-room Hotel” on Stock Island was legal, The Blue Paper received an interesting tip. Pritam Singh is suing 7 of his neighbors for alleged unlawful vacation rental use of their condos at Oceanside Marina. He wants them to rent long-term. The $100 million question is whether there is in fact any difference between those old condos (2003) and the new ones recently built by Mr. Singh at that very same marina. [continue reading…]

Dec 302016
 
Oceanside Marina: Bait & Switch

December 30, 2016 by Naja Girard……. He is renowned for his real estate prowess, selling 100-million-dollar hotels in Key West as if they are going out of style: Parrot Key Resort on Roosevelt Boulevard in 2014 sold for $100,000,000 and only 1 year later, in March of 2015, The Marker near Key West Bight sold for $96,250,000). Pritam Singh, dubbed the Donald Trump of the Keys, is now ready to unveil his latest creation: Ocean’s Edge Key West on Stock Island (the old Oceanside Marina). People will say, “It’s [continue reading…]

Aug 262016
 
Crime Pays in Key West, Especially When you Get Caught

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Prominent businessman Ed Swift got caught again illegally renting to tourists. The Conch Train owner and, ironically, advocate for affordable housing, was reported this week by The Keynoter as having been set up, again, by code enforcement officials who went undercover and rented two of his condo units at Key Cove Landing for 6 nights for roughly $600 a night. That was, apparently, the third time in a little over a year.  Swift certainly made a mistake. Or did he? [continue reading…]

Aug 122016
 
New Development at Sunset Marina: Commercial Slip Owners Cry Foul

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Liveaboards and low-income renters may not be the only victims of the Sunset Marina development agreement approved last month by the City Commission. Sunset Marina’s $2700/month “affordable housing” project appears to have also cheated small commercial boat owners out of over 100 legally required parking spaces. By the look of things, developers may also be lining things up to cheat the building department on permit fees by an estimated $125,000 [by misrepresenting construction costs by nearly 7 million dollars.]

Jul 222016
 
"Devious" Developers Score on Offshore Island Development, 2016

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. Remember, the first time you drove down US 1 all the way to Key West? We would like to take you from that glittering vision of hundreds of little green islands suspended over endless turquoise waters and sit you down in the boardroom of the County Commissioners who are in charge of protecting that whole magical expanse called the Florida Keys. Few issues in Monroe County have stirred as much passion and cloak and dagger plots as the development of those [continue reading…]

Jul 082016
 
Florida Keys Environmental (Oops, They Removed the Environment From the Bill) Stewardship Act

Editor, I recently read Mayor Carruthers rebuttal to criticism of the Fl. Keys Stewardship Act in the Blue Paper. The gist of her rebuttal was simplistically: trust your Elected Officials to do the right (correct) thing. Well, Mayor, if history is an indication of what we can expect from our Elected Representatives and leaders, what will follow is the Cape Coddling of the Florida Keys, as Pritam Singh predicted years ago. Let’s look at the honesty and integrity of our leaders Mayor. Who was it [continue reading…]

 July 8, 2016  Posted by at 12:34 am Issue #174, Letter to the Editor 2 Responses »
Feb 122016
 
Monroe County: "Affordable" Housing for the Rich

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. A one-room efficiency for $1,836/month, a one-bedroom for $2,097, a two-bedroom for $2,358. Those are the “affordable” rates that will prevail for the rental of 70% of the 213 affordable residential units the County Commission has approved for a Big Coppitt Key waterfront development project. Those rents are defined in the code as “moderate-income affordable.”

Jan 292016
 
Workforce Grocery Stores, Hotels, and Trolleys...

More on Fairy Tale (Peary) Court… by Rick Roberts (aka Raccoon)……. Dear Editor: Once upon a time, in a reality far, far, away sensibility and intelligence somehow escaped Key West. And in that purge the normal folk of Key West that remained were saddled with the self-proclaimed superior genius of a toxic reign of grocery “palace” owners, former schlepping auto parts clerks, pompous gas bag commissioners, and a bevy of their cohorts. This cabal of condescending Kings of Key West collectively believed they should fleece [continue reading…]

 January 29, 2016  Posted by at 10:00 am ~ Opinion ~, Island Voices No Responses »
Nov 272015
 
Holidays Begin!

The holidays are kicking off in Key West with one of the most beloved local events: the 18th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Monday, November 30th at 6 p.m. in Bayview Park. This time-honored event features a performance by the Horace O’Bryant Middle School Band and the arrival of Santa Claus. For third time in 18 years, local developer Pritam Singh has generously donated the Christmas tree and the state of the art LED lighting. In addition, a group of donors have also included [continue reading…]

 November 27, 2015  Posted by at 12:15 am Issue #142, Public Notice No Responses »

Hurricane Trees

 
Hurricane Trees

If the tree commission denies you permission to cut down trees that would damage your home in a hurricane, what can you do? Pretty much nothing. This happened to a neighbor, and I decided to look into it. I had an enlightening discussion with Asst. City Attorney Ronald Ramsingh. I had heard after Hurricane Georges in 1998 that some of the large ficuses that came down and damaged homes had been denied pruning, and sure enough, the pruning would have saved the tree and prevented [continue reading…]

 December 5, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am  3 Responses »
May 162014
 
LAW FOR SALE

by Arnaud and Naja Girard……. [NOTE: You will not be able to view the video of Monroe County meetings if you are using Chrome as your browser.  You should switch to a different browser to gain access to the video content in this article.] There it was, a 100’ long wooden dock, all ready for the sport fishing boats belonging to the owners of the eight new mansions nestled between the palm trees and the tropical flowers. The only problem was, no boats could get to the [continue reading…]

Wisteria Island: The King of Spain and Roger Bernstein

 
Wisteria Island:  The King of Spain and Roger Bernstein

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Finally, some movement in the Wisteria Island lawsuit.  It’s a hundred thousand dollar legal adaptation of I own it No, I own it No, I own it The controversy turns around what has become known as the “Navy’s claim.”  A 2010 attempt to build a large hotel complex, with private homes and a marina on Wisteria Island was shut down after The Blue Paper published a story revealing that Roger Bernstein might not be the true owner of the island.  The [continue reading…]

 May 9, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am  9 Responses »