SEASIDE — Antoine Simmons of Haystack Lodgings hopes to move forward with plans for a new three-story hotel, the Pearl Oceanfront Resort, on the site of the Inn at the Prom and a neighboring Beach Drive lot.
First he’ll have to survive an appeal at the City Council Monday night that could set the plan back once again.
Neighbors Susan and Dan Calef, owners of a duplex on Avenue A, said the proposed structure on 341 South Prom “will dwarf our house, invade our privacy by placing hotel balconies feet from our upstairs bedroom and generally diminish the value of our property.”
The Calefs object to the height of the building, possible fencing around their property and a loss of views. “In short, we are not too enthusiastic about it,” Dan Calef said.
Because of an 8-foot grade difference between the east and west sides of the building, an additional variance was needed to allow the increase to 60 feet for the roof height at the west building wing, an addition of 15 feet over the 45 feet allowed by zoning. The building will have sloped roofs and dormer windows, with an 80-foot tower, an architectural feature already allowed as an exception to the building height under city ordinance.
“When you look at it from the east, it is 15 feet above the variance at 60 feet, but when you look at it from the ocean side, the Prom, it will just be 7 feet above grade,” Simmons said.
He said the building was comparable height to other buildings in the area, which is zoned for hotels and resorts.
Back and forth
Appeals were brought by the Calefs and Avrel Nudelman, who owns a home at 341 Beach Drive. Based on the setback variances, the City Council returned the project to the Planning Commission for redesign.
Simmons and architect David Vonada went back before the Planning Commission in January with revised plans eliminating the need for setback variances by reducing parking and eliminating four second-floor rooms.
“The way we had to structure it, we had to give up the second-floor oceanfront rooms and turn that area into parking,” Simmons said. “That did reduce us by six oceanfront rooms. That’s our bread-and-butter for this type of property. That’s the sacrifice we had to make to get enough parking places.”
After revised plans won Planning Commission approval for a height variance in January, the Calefs submitted their second appeal to the City Council. Nudelman did not appeal the Planning Commission’s second decision.
‘A few problems’
“From what I have seen, the new proposal still has a few problems,” Dan Calef said. “From the prospective of 25 Avenue A — our house — one drawing shows the building set back from Avenue A in such a way that our whole house is visible — and hence we could see the Prom — while other drawings have the building closer to the street and partially in front of us.
“I would also think that there would have to be some sort of fence in front of our house to stop we AARP members from tumbling into the driveway down into the parking garage,” Calef added. “This would also change our property from ‘ocean view’ to ‘fence view.’”
Simmons said he understood the motivation for the Calefs’ appeal. “It’s been their family’s home, I understand that. It would be a challenge for me if it was my ancestral family home,” he said.
Simmons said the family had rejected purchase overtures. “We offered twice as much as it was worth, based on the comps,” Simmons said. “They can’t even come to the point of selling. They don’t want to. All of their childhood memories are part of that house. I understand that.”
Even if the Pearl plan wins approval and the hotel is built, the Calefs will continue to receive most of their light and views, Simmons said. “The Pearl will be built based on the 15-foot side yard setback requirement,” Simmons said in a letter to members of the City Council. “The angle of the vacant lot, which gets narrower as it nears the ocean, will push the building footprint back to almost 25 within the lot. With the building setbacks, the sunlight and ocean view in front of the neighbor’s home will be protected.”