Dunedin hotel planned near the causeway for Blue Jays players | North County

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DUNEDIN – The Toronto Blue Jays want their players to get a good night’s sleep and a comfortable place to do their homework after a day of training.

And, yes, players have homework, Charlie Wilson, a Jays executive said at the Dunedin local planning agency meeting on September 8.

That is why plans are underway for the construction of a three-story, 51-room boutique hotel near Dunedin’s Causeway.

Wilson said the hotel project is the final piece of the puzzle in the 115,000-square-foot player development complex, where players train seven days a week.

“We owe it to our players, to our athletes to give them the best facilities possible. So that they can rest and recover so that they can prepare for the next day,” Wilson said.

Players arrive in Dunedin in February and stay until early April.

They will travel to the training center seven days a week at 7 a.m. by bus and leave from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon, Wilson said.

“Long days at the facility. Meetings, strengthening and conditioning, athletic training work, mental performance. You name it. Before you even get on the pitch before 8:30 am,” he said.

Plans call for caterers to come into full kitchens and serve dinners at the hotel.

People may laugh at the idea that players have homework, but the Jays have their priority goals to work on when they get back to the hotel, Wilson said.

They will be looking at their strengthening and conditioning programs and fieldwork, Wilson said.

“This will be the best dormitory hotel in all of baseball, I assure you,” he said.

Each bedroom is expected to accommodate two players, with two king beds, two closets, two full desks, and 50- to 60-inch TVs, refrigerators, and microwaves.

The planning agency unanimously approved a request for a development agreement to build the three-story boutique hotel on the 0.85 acre lot at 491 Causeway Blvd. The bedrooms will be located above the ground floor parking lot and will have meeting space, a downstairs pool for guests and other amenities.

Only a small amount of rooms will be available to the public at certain times of the year, according to project plans.

Wilson says the team hopes to have a 25-year hotel lease.

“If someone put a gun to our head and told us to sign a 25-year lease, we would sign it today to move into this hotel,” Wilson said.

A vacant property adjacent to the west of the project site is under contract. An addition and / or expansion to the proposed hotel on the property is planned in the future.

Doug Anderson, the developer and Dunedin resident, said the project would not have started if the Blue Jays had not asked for his help about two years ago.

“When we looked at the needs and the number of rooms, we started seriously trying to find a place in Dunedin,” he said.

The Blue Jays wanted to stay in Dunedin, spend their tax dollars here, and pay tourist taxes.

“They want to be good neighbors because they are so invested in the city,” Anderson said. “That’s why we got involved with them.”

The site meets several requirements of the Jays.

“The players don’t have cars,” he said. “Because most of the players who are here are minor league players,” he said.

They tried to find a place within walking distance of restaurants and with a Publix nearby.

Anderson said he had had meetings with representatives from a neighboring development and sent letters among other outreach efforts.

“Because I wanted everyone to know what we’re doing,” Anderson said.

Planning Agency member Steven Sandbergen said he recognized that the players are “low on the totem pole to climb the ranks, but they are still going to put their money back into the economy there.”

“I’ve watched this team for many, many years here. It’s a big employer, a big landlord and it’s a beautiful property that will be put on the city’s tax roll if and when that happens,” Sandbergen said.

The first reading of the ordinance approving the development agreement for the Dunedin Causeway hotel, also known as the J Hotel, passes before the city commission on Thursday, October 7. Second reading is Thursday, October 21.

If the ordinance is approved, then the project must go through the formal design review approval process, including recommendations from the local planning agency, followed by the review and approval of the municipal commission during two public hearings.


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