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Sunset Beach dune restoration project impacts local businesses

Posted on October 2, 2023

Local business owners are feeling the long-term effects of Hurricane Idalia.

The storm destroyed the sand dunes at Sunset Beach in Treasure Island, forcing county leaders to close the beach as they work to re-surface the dunes.

The dune restoration project has been underway for about a week now, and local business owners say they are already feeling the impacts.

“I love my little beach. I love my neighborhood. I love my little town,” said Atul Shah, who lives on Treasure Island.

Shah loves stores like The Florida Shell Shop.

“We’ve just been catering to tourists since 1955,” said Patrick Elias, who owns The Florida Shell Shop.

Elias says this time of year is slow as coastal stores wait for yearly snowbirds to return… but after Hurricane Idalia destroyed sand dunes along Sunset Beach, things have been even slower.

“Nothing is a perfect formula, so I’m not worried if we are slow one day or one week and then we pick up another day or week. It all evens out in the end,” said Elias.

Sunset Beach will stay closed for the next month.

Jordan LeFevre at Suncoast Surf Shop believes the project will be worth it.

“I know that it is important that those dunes are restored because a lot of those houses did take some water in, and if you go down there, you can see where those sand dunes were completely wiped out,” he said.

Both Elias and LeFevre hope people still visit their side of the island.

“We are definitely still open. I think Sunset Beach is a small part of the whole coast of Pinellas County, so there is more than enough to do still,” said Elias.


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