2018-03-29 / Front Page

Fifth Element Hotel Proposes Parking Options

Opponents to be Heard at April 5 Meeting
By James Merolla

The proposed plan for a four-story, 40-room hotel on Broadway above the Fifth Element Restaurant got a boost from several sources on March 22, when co-owner Frank Doyle said that he has a legal agreement in place with Nathan Tilman’s Newport Family and Cosmetic Dentistry to procure 12 vital parking spaces across the street.

At a special Zoning Board of Review hearing for the proposal, which was first introduced to the Planning Board in September 2017, Doyle revealed ways to solve the parking problem, which now appears to be the final hurdle in receiving zoning board approval.

Attorney Scott Turner, representing Doyle and co-owner Brad Cherevaty, also brought in a slate of expert witnesses over the course of nearly four hours.

Opponents to the proposal, including attorney James Callaghan of Wickford, who represents four neighbors and plans to bring in his own expert, will be heard at a special zoning board hearing on Thursday, April 5.

Former Newport Director of Planning, Paige Bronk, who oversaw the design of the Broadway streetscape project, called the plan to construct the hotel on the restaurant and the adjacent abandoned Foley’s garage site, “Exactly what we wanted when Broadway was redesigned.”

Zoning Officer Guy Weston reminded the board that the hotel plan met all city zoning requirements, except for parking.

Weston said that the question the board must ask is, "[the applicant] physically providing all he can to try to meet his burden of off-street parking spaces?”

Two parking areas exist within the hotel footprint, with 20 spaces on each of the first two floors. Cars enter a ramp from Kilburn Court to reach the second-floor parking spaces. But the hotel must secure 61 spaces required under the city’s zoning ordinance for restaurant and hotel guests and employees, based on building size.

Scott said, “Sixty-one spaces does not [include] the 13 spaces that the restaurant already has [around the area]. The project respects all of the regulatory requirements of the zoning code.”

Doyle displayed a letter citing a legal agreement with a dental office for parking privileges 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays, and from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Thursday.

“This is a long-term agreement that takes us past the next decade,” he said.

When asked his reaction to dissenting letters and opposition, he said, “Disappointing. We have tried to be respectful to all our neighbors. We’ve made ourselves available for 14 years.”

Callaghan repeatedly questioned witnesses about the lack of parking, citing complaints from neighbors.

“Parking is the most important issue,” Zoning Chair Christopher Kirwin said.

In commending the plan, Bronk said, “It is uncommon for a project to come forward and not only try to arrange new parking, but to seek more with the inclusion of the lot across the street. What is provided on site and what is provided at the dental office satisfied most of the parking need.”

Newport resident and real estate broker Steven A. Kirby testified that the plan supplies 65 spots: 40 on site, 13 in the surrounding street area and 12 more just procured.

If passed as designed, the boutique hotel will have a fourth floor at one end and will be 44 feet high. The location of the Fifth Element Restaurant will be unchanged.

A second special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 5, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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