Posted: 4:05 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, 2015
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By Bill DiPaolo - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A four-minute video blasting Charles Modica’s plan to develop the Suni Sands mobile home park into a Key West-style development has been posted by an Albuquerque, New Mexico conservation group.
+Video slams Suni Sands project; developer says he’s moving forward photo
Image from the video opposing the development of the Suni Sands mobile home park in Jupiter (Courtesy of Bold Visions Conservation)
“Why turn it into a concrete jungle?” resident William Stewart asks, with a painting of the Jupiter Inlet in the background.
Hobe Sound resident Modica, who paid about $17 million in 2013 for the prime 10-acre property fronting the Jupiter Inlet, is moving forward with his plans for a non-gated community with a 200-room hotel, a dozen cottages, retail space and underground parking for about 400 vehicles. Current zoning limits building height to three stories.
Eviction notices have been sent by certified mail to the roughly 100 residents of the mobile-home park. Residents are eligible for up to $6,000 from Florida to help with moving expenses.
Modica said he sympathized with residents, but town regulations allow development of the property. He said he has purposely stalled development, which is not expected to start until next year, to allow residents to find a new place to live.
“I could have moved forward faster. I understand they love where they live. It’s a beautiful location,” said Modica.
Residents at Suni Sands, who must be at least 55 years old, own their own mobile homes. They each pay about $600 a month to rent their lots, which includes water, sewer, lawn maintenance, trash collection and cable. Residents pay their own electric bills.
Plans for the overall development have not been submitted to the town. Construction isn’t likely to start until late 2016 if the plan is approved by the town council.
Modica plans to demolish the 1906-built Sperry boathouse on the property. Plans call for a new two-story boathouse, which will include a top-floor observation deck and second-floor hall available for rent.
Modica is “a billionaire who bought their little slice of heaven. Now he’s booting them to the streets and destroying the natural beauty surrounding Suni Sands, dredging the habitat, so he can park his boat collection there,” according to the video.
Modica collects antique boats and told residents he plans on keeping one or two of them at the boathouse.
“I’d like to have them on display so people coming to the boathouse could see them,” said Modica.
The video was paid for and made by Bold Visions Conservation. The company’s executive director, Stephen Capra, was visiting Jupiter and became interested in the issue, said Joe Adair, the organization’s associate director.
“It’s heart wrenching. There are old people who live there who expected to live out their lives there. Now their lives have been turned upside down,” said Adair.
Suni Sands resident Tom Ryan said residents will continue to oppose Modica’s development. It’s an uphill battle, Ryan said.
“He’s a billionaire. We’re a bunch of retirees,” Ryan said.
Have a Jupiter issue you’d like to see The Post tackle, or a story idea? Contact Bill DiPaolo at BDiPaolo@pbpost.com.
Bold Visions Conservation