2017-09-21 / Opinion


New Hotel Won’t Benefit Neighbors

To the Editor:

After months of keeping their plans close to the vest, the owners of The Fifth Element on Broadway have finally announced their plans for the old Foley gas station located next door to the restaurant.

In an energetic and very successful public relations blitz, they announced plans to demolish the eyesore that is Foley’s gas station and replace it with a four-story, 40-room “boutique” hotel that will stretch from Kilburn Court to Ayrault.

Few would argue against the removal of the existing structure. But before I jump on the “let’s-hurry-up- and-approve/build” bandwagon, there are some real issues that need to be addressed.

First is the impact that this four-story behemoth will have on the residential properties that abut the proposed hotel. According to the Newport zoning code, the legislative intent of the general business district is to “allow general retail and business uses, but in a manner so as to complement the existing unique combination of residential and commercial uses found in the area.”

I know of no property owners or residents who live on Ayrault or Kilburn Court who believe that a four-story hotel will complement their existing residences. In fact, when they try to imagine the size and scope of the Fifth Element project, all they can see is a loss of privacy, an onslaught of congestion, a reduction of the gentle breezes that currently grace their yards, an increase in noise and a reduction of any view they might have. Indeed, try to imagine a four-story hotel built with just five feet of setback from your property line, and you can understand their concern.

The second issue is parking. The proposed plan calls for a variance to allow it to have 21 fewer parking places than required. A short trip up Ayrault, down Mann, and into Kilburn Court on any evening will convince an impartial observer that parking is already at a premium on these streets. Anyone searching for a parking spot close to the Fifth Element in the evening hours will be lucky to find a single space, much less 21. There must be enough parking for each of the rooms in the hotel, plus the employees required to run the hotel and the guests who come to enjoy the proposed rooftop bar and garden. Without those parking spaces currently required by zoning, the proposed Fifth Element Hotel will only add to the congestion that is Broadway.

I hope that the owners of the Fifth Element will continue to be the good neighbors that they have shown themselves to be since their restaurant and bar opened in its current location and address ways to alleviate the valid concerns of their neighbors.

Gordon Stewart

A Track Record of Success

To the Editor:

I have been a Newport resident since 1978 I live at 47 William St. My parents lived at 25 Brewer St.

I have been following the proposed hotel development by Brad Cherevaty and Frank Doyle from The Fifth Element for the old Foley Station.

In my time here I have seen good developments and certainly not very well thought out developments, that I will not list.

Given the money spent to date for the revitalization of Broadway, and given the fact that this is a well-placed location for such a hotel concept that will only augment the Broadway revitalizing further… intangible numbers not quantifiable but certainly will prove to be positive.

And that I have known Brad and Frank for well over 15 years, successful businessmen that provide jobs for local residents, and tax revenue for Newport.

Every place they open is busy day one and they never look back. A great track record for success.

But more if not most important, these are two good, honest men, family men that have placed their stake in Newport.

I and others are wholeheartedly in favor of this development and I might add in the right part of town–as opposed to proposed waterfront developments which have some merits but take more away from a resident than it gives back, an opinion of course… But this town must embrace growth. Smart growth.

There are so very few existing establishments that meet zoning parking requirements as you know that are flourishing and contribute to our Newport economy.

So let this process continue hopefully to a positive end.

Brian Sullivan

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