2017-07-13 / Around Town

Peregrine Hotel Passes Planning Board Hurdle

By Bob Rulli


A revised architectural rendering of the proposed Newport Yachting Center Hotel fronting America's Cup Avenue, showing red brick facade and expanded walkway. (Renderings by Union Studio Architecture & Community Design, PARE Corp., and Birchwood Design Group) A revised architectural rendering of the proposed Newport Yachting Center Hotel fronting America's Cup Avenue, showing red brick facade and expanded walkway. (Renderings by Union Studio Architecture & Community Design, PARE Corp., and Birchwood Design Group) In the most anticipated agenda item at the Tuesday, July 4 meeting, the Planning Board voted 5-1 to make a positive recommendation to the Zoning Board of Review on a proposal by the owners of the former Newport Yachting Center to create a mixed-use project that would include an 84-room boutique hotel.

Vice Chairwoman Melissa Pattavina, acting as the hearing Chair after Chairperson Kim Salerno recused herself due to her involvement in an unrelated hospitality project in the city, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The project now moves on to the Zoning Board of Review, which holds its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, July 24. However, with consistently long agendas and the inability to get through more than half the agenda at a meeting, the complexity of this matter suggests it could be August or September before it receives a hearing, or that it more likely will be addressed in a Special Meeting.


Original architectural rendering of the proposed Newport Yachting Center Hotel fronting America's Cup Avenue. Original architectural rendering of the proposed Newport Yachting Center Hotel fronting America's Cup Avenue. The Peregrine Group appeared before the board with a revised plan for the project. In May, they had presented a "conceptual plan review" for their proposed mixed-use project, which would also include office, retail and restaurant space on the property, parking underneath the building, and surface lot parking behind the proposed development. They also indicated the plan to maintain and relocate the seasonal skating rink, and committed to addressing the issue of public access to the waterfront. Following the May presentation, board members offered several comments and suggestions.

At the Thursday, July 6 meeting, Attorney Neil Galvin, representing Peregrine, addressed the board. He acknowledged that the planning board only had authority to make a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Review on whether they were supportive of the plan and that it was consistent with the City's Comprehensive Plan. Galvin said his clients took the comments and suggestions seriously, and then outlined changes that were made.

In May, Galvin said he would be seeking both a special use permit and variances from the city if the project was to move forward. One variance was to meet the onsite parking requirement. He said his clients were adding two additional parcels, which they own, totaling 14,000 square feet, in order to ease the burden for on-site parking and the need for at least one variance. Additionally, noting that under the current zoning ordinance his client could build 58 hotel rooms by right, the owners are now proposing creating a series of interconnecting rooms from the 84 planned rooms. A special use permit is required for the 84 rooms because the zoning ordinance requires they be at least 300 square feet; as proposed, the room sizes for the hotel are only 230 square feet.

The developer also committed to creating a public walkway along the boundary of Scott's Wharf (the Mooring Restaurant parking area) towards the water. However, Galvin said that the city would need to help coordinate that effort. Galvin and Peregrine partner Sam Bradner discussed creating additional dedicated areas of public access behind the Harborview Condominiums and continuing behind the proposed hotel project, and perhaps in the future connecting further south to the Perry Mill Wharf, which is currently for sale.

In response to another concern expressed at the May meeting, the developers, through their design partner, Douglas Fallfelz of Union Studio Architecture & Community Design of Providence, told the board that the plan had been revised to make the exterior of the building red brick rather than the grey concrete façade that had previously been proposed. Fallfelz added that the building would have a ramp sidewalk that would be parallel to the existing sidewalk on America's Cup Avenue, matching the building's raised first floor above the flood elevation. Fallfelz said both of those changes would be consistent with the Perry Mill Wharf building and the U.S. Post Office across the street.

Furthermore, Fallfelz said that the building’s height would be reduced to 53 feet, which is less than the Perry Mill building and the Post Office, both of which are over 71 feet.

But not everyone in attendance was satisfied with the changes.

The local group, Friends of the Waterfront, and several members of the community remained opposed to what they consider a lack of public access. They also do not believe that the city needs additional waterfront development, especially a hotel. Johanna Vietry, president of Friends of the Waterfront, acknowledged the changes, but told the board it was not enough. Other community members also spoke of the loss of water views and the fear of additional hotels.

"We are committed to creating access to the waterfront, but we also need to respect that we have customers in the marina and guests at The Bohlin wedding facility," said Sam Bradford, Principal Peregrine Group.

The six board members who sat for the presentation praised the response to their previous suggestions and comments, and the efforts that were made to incorporate them into the revised plan. The sitting board members were consistent in their desire to see a formal dedication to water access, and they raised concerns about additional traffic. They suggested the possible relocation of the traffic signal near the proposed entrance to the property on America's Cup Avenue.

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