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Pearl of Seaside owner pulls plug

Sale prompts withdrawal of Seaside hotel plan
By R.J. Marx

The Daily Astorian

Published on August 9, 2017 10:32AM

The Gilbert Inn in Seaside will see new ownership in September as part of the deal ending a new hotel on the Prom.

R.J. Marx/Seaside Signal

The Gilbert Inn in Seaside will see new ownership in September as part of the deal ending a new hotel on the Prom.

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Inn at the Prom is one of three properties owned by Antoine Simmons in Seaside.


Inn at the Prom is one of three properties owned by Antoine Simmons in Seaside.

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Some neighbors may rest a little easier as plans for a luxury hotel on the Prom were scrapped this month.

After a year of Planning Commission and City Council review — and a challenge to the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals — an application for a variance for the proposed 45-room Pearl of Seaside at 341 S. Prom was withdrawn because of the pending sale of the property.

City councilors took action Monday to suspend any further action on the appeal, according to City Planner Kevin Cupples.

Owner Antoine Simmons indicated the purchaser was not planning to pursue the proposed development project, so the request for an 8-foot property variance “has effectively been withdrawn from consideration at this point,” Cupples said.

Two other Simmons properties, Seaside’s Gilbert Inn and the Inn at the Prom, are included in the sale.

“The offer came out of left field and was too good to pass up,” Simmons said. “I couldn’t say ‘no.’”

Neighbors object

Simmons and his wife, Rocio, own and operate four boutique hotels in Seaside and Cannon Beach.

Plans for the Pearl of Seaside called for three stories, a penthouse floor and tower roof.

A two-level parking garage on Beach Drive with 41 inside spaces would have been supplemented with an additional 10 outdoor spaces on Avenue A.

But stall lengths, back-out and lane widths required a variance from the Planning Commission. Simmons also requested a height variance of 7 feet because of grade differences on various parts of the property.

After several months of testimony, the Planning Commission granted both variances.

During the 2016 planning process, neighbors — including Dan and Susan Calef — said the proposed building would eliminate natural light, reduce parking spaces and could “disrupt property values.”

After a fall appeal was upheld by City Council, Simmons and architect David Vonada returned to the Planning Commission in January with revised plans, leaving only the 8-foot grade difference needed to allow the increase to 60 feet for the roof height at the west building wing, an addition of 15 feet above the 45 feet allowed by city zoning. Without a height variance, the building would have lost two floors and been limited to 30 rooms, Simmons said.

The Planning Commission’s granting of the variance was again challenged by neighbors.

The proposed resort, the Calefs wrote, “will dwarf our house, invade our privacy by placing hotel balconies feet from our upstairs bedroom and generally diminish the value of our property.”

This time, the City Council upheld the Planning Commission’s granting of the height variance.

The Calefs challenged the decision with the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals.

September sale date

After the city received notice of the sale, City Attorney Dan Van Thiel filed a withdrawal from the state proceeding in order to suspend any further action on the appeal, sending the matter back to the city.

On Monday, July 24, the council approved the Calef appeal “based on a finding of no further contest.”

Councilors Seth Morrisey, Tita Montero, Randy Frank and Dana Phillips, along with Mayor Jay Barber, voted in favor of the revised final order. Councilors Tom Horning and Steve Wright recused themselves.

“We felt that the proposed hotel was simply too big and we are pleased that the plan has been withdrawn,” Calef said in an email after the meeting. “We wish Mr. Simmons good luck with his future endeavors and appreciate the civility he has shown through a process that easily could have been very acrimonious.”

The identity of the purchaser was not available at press time.

The sale of the properties will be completed by September, Simmons said.

His properties in Cannon Beach, including the Blue Gull Inn and the Inn at Haystack Rock, are unaffected by the sale.

“I am now working on building a 37-unit apartment complex in Warrenton,” Simmons added.


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