Island Gazette

Carolina Beach Planning Commission To Review Permit Request For Resort Hotel

(Pictured Above:) Rendering of proposed branded resort hotel for oceanfront downtown Carolina Beach.

By Willard H. Killough III
Managing Editor


(Pictured Above:) Proposed traffic plan for the new hotel at ground level realigning Carolina Beach Avenue North with Canal Drive. Also showing ground level parking and turnaround area for hotel and boardwalk area.
Click here to enlarge image...

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on May 10, at 7PM at Town Hall to consider a conditional use permit request for a "branded resort hotel" located at 200 Carolina Beach Avenue North. The applicant is Sea View Properties – Russ Maynard. The plans were submitted to the Town's Planning Department on Monday April 30, 2007.
The plan proposes to redevelop the lots of the former Hula Grille Restaurant (.08 acres), former Ocean Plaza (.11 acres), and the existing King’s Beachwear and Sea Side Inn (.40 acres), located at the north end of the boardwalk at the intersections of Canal Drive, Carolina Beach Avenue North and Harper Avenue, into a 191 room hotel with indoor and outdoor pools, a hotel cafe, with three levels of structured parking. The site is located within the Central Business District (CBD) and is within 500’ of the town parking lot the “Marina Lot.” 
According to the proposal submitted to the Planning Department, the hotel is a commercial use and will have rooms on 7 floors, with 210 parking spaces provided on the first 3 floors. The indoor pool will be located on the fourth floor, and the hotel cafe will be located on the second floor adjacent to the boardwalk. The roof height will be 105 feet with a 10’ overrun for the elevator, other roof top equipment would be within the 10’. The building has no setbacks since it is within the CBD zoning district. A separated portion of the building that supports the outdoor pool is located within the 60’ CAMA line and the  building itself is located behind the 120’ CAMA line.  The lot coverage is approximately 100% as allowed within the CBD.
According to the proposal the estimated water consumption for the hotel, restaurant and spa is approximately 10,000 gallons per day.
The applicant had an impact study performed by the traffic-engineering firm Wilbur Smith and Associates. According to the applicant, the study shows that the proposed development "will have very minimal effects on the traffic operations in the areas surrounding the development and the hotel will have a positive impact on beach access and the pedestrian environment, by improving Harper Avenue extension and extending the oceanfront boardwalk."  
The proposal would add an additional vehicular lane on Canal Drive in the area and a redirected Carolina Beach Avenue North with three lanes for a safer “T” style intersection with Canal Drive and a roadway easement with public parking that could be metered by the Town.
According to the proposal, all roadway improvements include new and larger than existing sidewalks. Stop signs, a yield sign and crosswalks would be added to the streets.
The proposal states, “Hotel guests will be able to park on site.  Six metered parking spaces along Carolina Beach Avenue North are being relocated within the parking structure to provide a safer, and more pedestrian friendly entrance to the boardwalk area – these spaces can still be metered. This also makes room for a potential water fountain feature at the entrance to the boardwalk.”
For parking, the proposal states, “Even though the project does not require the use of public parking, the Marina Lot has 145 spaces. This lot yields 1015 cars parked per week, or 4,495 cars parked per month (31 days). Per the data provided by Central Parking - the Town’s Parking Contractor - in the busiest month 1,525 (including citations) cars parked in the Marina Lot. Thus there were 2,970 spaces available for the month. The Marina Lot has 34% maximum utilization. 
According to the proposal, the project would be required to have 191 parking spaces following a requirement of one space per room. Six public metered parking spaces would be relocated within the public parking area.
The proposal states a total of 210 parking spaces provided for the hotel.
The current and former commercial uses on the properties included the Hula Grille, Ocean Plaza, Seaview Motel and Ice Cream Shop. All total required 468 parking spaces.
The proposal states, “Additionally, the existing businesses; Hula Grille, Ocean Plaza, Sea View Motel, and the Ice Cream shop require 468 parking spaces, of which only 10 are provided on site, which leaves 458 parking spaces that utilize the Town Parking.  Eliminating this parking burden removes the current parking deficit of 172. The Branded Resort Hotel is seeking no public parking, which leaves the Town with an additional 286 parking spaces available for future CBD redevelopment.”
As for the Sea View Motel, the proposal states it “will be demolished after Labor Day 2007. The project could begin construction as early as January 2008 with an estimated 16 month construction time, so that the Hotel could be open by spring of 2009.”
The applicant’s proposal presents the project as a leap forward for revitalizing the downtown central business district. The proposal states, “The Branded Resort Hotel proposes to continue the embodiment of the Town’s Zoning Ordinance and Land Use Plan by providing a Hotel to bookend the Pavilion area and by providing additional commercial uses, and bringing more tourists to the Central Business District in order to promote the current efforts toward revitalization. The project also improves and revitalizes the CBD by providing landscaping, a feature fountain, on-site storm water containment, lighting and signage per the Town Ordinances. Perhaps one of the most important considerations for the Branded Resort Hotel is that it is the first substantial revitalization project within the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.”
According to the proposal the proposed hotel could generate approximately 1,609 trips per average weekday with 110 trips entering / exiting during the AM peak hour, 116 trips entering / exiting during the PM peak hour, and 142 trips entering / exiting during the Saturday peak hour.
The proposal states, “This study shows that minor improvements should be constructed to provide safe and efficient ingress and egress as well as to enhance vehicular and pedestrian operations and public safety in the vicinity of the proposed hotel.”
The proposal recommends a new intersection for Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North as well as other changes to facilitate the plan. (See illustration on Page 14-A...)
The proposal states, “This study shows that the proposed Branded Resort Hotel will add traffic on the surrounding roadways.  This traffic is expected to relatively minor, and is projected to have very little impact on the surrounding roadway network. While it is recognized that traffic volumes at the Canal Dr / Carl Winner Ave and US 421 / Carl Winner intersections are typically very high in the summer months, the analysis has shown that the proposed hotel adds little, if any delay to the surrounding intersections during typical weekday peak hours.  The traffic projected to be generated by the proposed development is not expected to materially endanger public health, safety, or welfare.”
Russ Maynard held several public meetings last summer to involve citizens in a public design process where citizens could participate in brainstorming different development options.
After the proposal was scaled back several times from 140 to 104’, the project would rely on a mix of traditional hotel rooms and hotel-minium rooms purchased by private owners and rented as hotel rooms.
Maynard explained in November 2006 that hotel-miniums had become a way to finance hotel projects on properties with expensive price tags all across the United States and not just in Carolina Beach.
He explained that high real estate costs like those found on the coast make it hard for major name flagship hotel companies to build because, “These are sites that you cannot generate enough revenue if you rent rooms every night of the year to support a major flagship hotel. One way to help on the front-end and make it work” is by doing the hotel-minium concept with funding generated by the sale of rooms to private owners. He added that such rooms in a flagship hotel like a Hilton or Holiday Inn would be transparent to the customer.
The Town’s zoning ordinance defined hotel-miniums but did not include them in the “Table of Permissible Uses” as an allowable use anywhere in Town.
A proposal to amend the Town’s zoning ordinance to permit hotel-miniums in several districts where hotels are already permitted was denied by both the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council in December.
Council members Joel Macon and Pat Efird supported the amendment. Mayor Bill Clark and Councilmen Alan Gilbert and Jerry Johnson voted to deny the amendment request.
Councilman Alan Gilbert pushed for more specific predictable development standards including height limits.
He explained that since the Town had no height limit in the downtown area, it would be hard for
Council to limit height and that he didn’t want to see a hotel-minium ordinance become a backdoor for substandard condominiums in the Central Business District.
Macon and Efird supported the amendment for hotel-miniums because the Town had been in need of
commercial revitalization for several decades and Maynard’s project was a starting point for revitalization of the downtown area.
Councilman Jerry Johnson explained he couldn’t vote to approve the hotel-minium amendments, but said at the December meeting, “I’m in favor of a major flagship hotel. I’m not in favor of a 50/50 condominium-hotel.”
Mayor Bill Clark said he wanted another hotel on the boardwalk, but didn’t want to see residential in the downtown area.
The new plan is entirely a hotel; not a hotel-minium.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the new proposal for a branded hotel resort at their May 10, 2007 meeting at 7PM at Town Hall; 1121 North Lake Park Blvd. Call 910-458-2526 for more information.
According to Town Senior Planner Ed Parvin, a request for a “road closure” scheduled for the May 10, meeting to “re-route Carolina Beach Avenue North at Harper Avenue from Canal Drive for expansion of 200 Carolina Beach Avenue North” has been pulled from the agenda until the Planning Commission and Town Council can review the conditional use permit request for the hotel proposal.



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