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Tradewinds restaurant project seen dead in the water


Three years after unveiling ambitious plans to transform the former Dockside Grille into a 1950s-style steak and seafood restaurant dubbed Tradewinds, owner Tim Girard’s project at 41 Royal Palm Pointe appears dead in the water.

The vacant building, where no work appears to have been done in some time, has become an eyesore, languishing behind a chain-link fence propped up by sandbags, getting shabbier with each passing month.

The current building permit for the project, taken out in 2018, has been extended five times and is due to expire in two weeks. According to the county building department, if Girard applies for another extension, it will be up to the plans examiner assigned to the job to determine if a sixth extension can be granted.

Vero Beach city officials say Girard will be back at square one if the building permit expires, required to reapply for site plan approval.

The Dockside Grille closed in 2015 with promises by its then owner that it would open again in the fall, but the restaurant remained permanently shuttered. Before becoming Dockside in 2008, the eatery for many years housed the restaurant Ellie’s and before that a fine-dining restaurant known by its street number, 41.

Girard purchased the .57-acre property and 4,350-square-foot restaurant building for $1.84 million in April 2016. In September of that year, he submitted plans to Vero Beach to construct a 2,575-square-foot covered tiki deck and perform major renovations inside the existing restaurant, according to city documents.

The expansion plans generated neighborhood opposition from people fearful of late-night noise, but the Planning and Zoning Board approved the project in late 2016.

In an August 2016 interview with Vero Beach 32963, an enthusiastic Girard said his retro concept would be integrated with 21st century nutritional concerns.

“It’s a fresh market table,” Girard said of his concept at the time. “I deconstruct the meal. You walk in, you order your drink and you go to the fresh market table. By the time you get back to your table, your drink is there and you order your protein.”

Today, Girard – who operates Vero Beach-based Girard Equipment, which manufactures tank trailer equipment – isn’t speaking.

Business owners and patrons of neighboring shops, however, are talking about the stalled project.

“A restaurant would be good,” said Rhonda Anderson, owner of neighboring Rhonda’s Seafood. “I think it would bring more people to the area.”

Speculation about when and if Tradewinds will ever open also swirls at nearby Riverside Cigar Bar, one patron said.

“It’s the big mystery,” Michael Turner, a Vero Beach resident.

According to city documents, Girard hired Vero Beach-based Donadio and Associates and MBV Engineering for architectural and engineering work for the project.

“We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago to talk about general progress and what Girard wants to do from this point on,” said Haydn Curtis, a partner at Donadio and Associates. “I think you’re better off talking to him about why it hasn’t started.”

Girard told Vero Beach 32963 that he didn’t want to comment for this story.