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Developer appeals Astoria waterfront hotel denial

Appeal claims city panels misapplied city criteria
By Katie Frankowicz

The Daily Astorian

Published on July 27, 2018 7:42AM

A developer is interested in building a new hotel on the Astoria waterfront.

Hollander Hospitality

A developer is interested in building a new hotel on the Astoria waterfront.

Hollander Hospitality, which hopes to build a four-story hotel on the Astoria waterfront, has appealed two denials of the project to the City Council.

A date for the hearing has not been set.

The city’s Design Review Committee and Historic Landmarks Commission in June shot down a proposal for a four-story, 66-room hotel off Marine Drive. The boards cited issues with the hotel’s size, appearance and how developers planned to integrate the former Ship Inn restaurant with the new building.

But Hollander Hospitality contends the two boards misapplied city criteria and that the Design Review Committee, in particular, “turned otherwise objective standards into subjective standards in violation of the express language” of the city’s development code.

The developer also believes a city code that requires new buildings to be compatible with adjacent historic structures does not apply to its proposal. In this case, the historic element that triggered review by the Historic Landmarks Commission was an old boiler from the former White Star Cannery.

“Because there are no ‘adjacent historic structures, the (committee) erred in comparing the proposed style with any building,” Hollander Hospitality wrote in its appeal.

The company is seeking clarity, said Sam Mullen, vice president for Hollander Hospitality.

“The nature of the process is if we want more information, we need to go through an appeal,” he said.

After city boards denied the project in June, Mullen wasn’t certain if the company would appeal or not. He said the project had received valuable feedback through the hearings process and at a community meeting the company hosted earlier in the year.

He still believes there could be some room during the appeals hearing with the City Council to tweak the proposal, and the appeal to the City Council itself will reveal a path forward.

Hollander Hospitality owns more property farther west between the Astoria Bridge and the building that houses the Bridgewater Bistro restaurant. As the company looks to develop both properties, Mullen says they need to know what they are being measured against.

In their reports to the city boards, city staff had not recommended either approving or denying the hotel project, but each report came with a list of recommendations, lingering questions and issues that needed to be addressed.

The developer was also criticized by members of both city boards for the state of the property where The Ship Inn and another former restaurant, Stephanie’s Cabin, are located. Since Hollander Hospitality purchased the lots, the landscaping has become overgrown with weeds.

City Manager Brett Estes assured the committees he would talk with Hollander Hospitality about taking care of the weeds. The city later sent Hollander Hospitality a code enforcement letter. Mullen told Estes Thursday that the work would be done soon.


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