Hotel across from Osceola Magnet cleared by school district

By Debbie Carson, Online Editor

VERO BEACH — Despite concerns raised at the Vero Beach City Council meeting, the proposed hotel across the street from Osceola Magnet Elementary School raises no red flags the Indian River County School District, though officials said they will be monitoring the situation once construction gets underway.

A Hampton Inn and Suites is planned for the property across 20th Street from the school, though construction isn’t expected to begin until late next year.

“We really don’t have any issue” with the hotel’s proximity to the school, said district spokeswoman Patty Vasquez.

She added that Osceola Magnet was built before the Publix, strip mall and other commercial projects came into the area.

“We’ve had to deal with that over the years,” Vasquez said of growth encroaching on the school’s property.

Vero Beach Council Member Kevin Sawnick voiced some concern about the proposed 90-room hotel being built near a school at the Council meeting this week. However, the district’s facilities department was notified of the proposed hotel and its location, according to Vasquez. The department did not voice any concern or opposition.Vasquez did say that the school district would be monitoring the progression of the construction and traffic related to the hotel.

Kelly Kite, managing director of Kite Properties — the hotel developer, said that he does not expect the hotel to impact the school, but added they would be mindful of classes being in session during the construction process.

Osceola Magnet Principal Susan Roberts was not immediately available to comment on the hotel.

Being a magnet school, Osceola does not have the large pedestrian population that other elementary schools have, according to Vasquez. She added that there is little concern that traffic or construction would impact the few walkers the school has.

The school district has had plans to move Osceola Magnet to another site sometime in the future. But Vasquez said that those plans have not been finalized and “that’s all still to be determined.”

For now, the district is operating under the premise the school is not going to be relocated.

What might be relocated due to the hotel’s construction is Rita’s Italian Ice, which sits on one of five parcels Kite Properties has assembled for the project.

Kite said that the eatery is expected to continue to operate as usual for now until such time that Kite Properties has all its permits and plans in place for the hotel.

At that time, Kite said negotiations would begin with the owner of Rita’s to relocate the business to another nearby commercial property Kite Properties owns.

Kelly Banaszak, a spokeswoman for Rita’s Italian Ice corporate office, said that the corporate office is responsible for such negotiations and relocations. She added that her office has not yet been notified of a potential relocation.

A message left for the owner of the local Rita’s franchise was not immediately returned.

Kite said that he is confident that Kite Properties would be able to work out an arrangement with Rita’s to relocate the business. He said that his company has a good relationship with the owner and has been in open discussions with the store for about a year now.

Kite added that he does not believe that Rita’s owner would refuse to move, and as such does not have a backup plan.

“We’ll cross that bridge” if need be,” Kite said.

The Hampton Inn and Suites would be the second Vero Beach hotel for Kite Properties. Last month, the company opened its SpringHill Suites by Marriott on Indian River Boulevard.

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