Avenue Inn plans major expansion

Project could add 28 rooms, restaurant and retail space
July 25, 2014

A Rehoboth Beach hotel is set to unveil plans that could change the landscape of Wilmington Avenue.

The Avenue Inn is planning a 28-room addition with restaurant, retail space and an underground parking garage. The expansion would replace the adjacent Planet X Café and neighboring Cypress restaurants on land purchased  by the inn’s owners, Avenue Associates LLC.

Avenue Inn co-owner Alex Moore said, “Our goal is to follow what the city comprehensive development plan calls for in revitalizing Wilmington Avenue. We feel we have a project that fits very well within the existing environment on the street and that it will be seen as a big step in creating what Wilmington Avenue can be for the city.”

Moore said Planet X was purchased in April, while Cypress closed in October 2012.

Before the company can begin construction, Avenue Associates must get approval from two city boards. First, at 7 p.m., Monday, July 28, the Rehoboth board of adjustment will hear a variance request to allow the Inn to exceed floor-to-area ratio and lot coverage limitations. To receive a variance, an applicant must prove there is a hardship or exceptional practical difficulty if the variance is not granted. The board’s practice has been that financial considerations do not constitute hardship.

Moore said a literal interpretation of the code creates a hardship in that by connecting the expansion with the current hotel, the Avenue Inn is penalized under the FAR and lot coverage percentage.The hotel was built under the old FAR of 2.8, Moore said. The FAR has since been reduced to 2.0.

A separate building could be built with an underground parking garage, Moore said, but the garage would count for 1.0 of the total FAR. Under that scenario, he said, the restaurant and retail space would be eliminated and the hotel rooms would be on the street level.

The proposed expansion would have all parking out of view from the street via an underground garage, as well as landscaped curbed bumpouts and wider sidewalks, Moore said. No city parking is affected by the plans, he said.

Plans for the Avenue Inn are also on the agenda of the Rehoboth Planning Commission, Friday, Aug. 8, as the first property subject to the 2012 site-plan review ordinance, which mandates that proposed large-scale developments undergo a public review process.

The proposed expansion is the second part of a renovation of the Avenue Inn. In 2013, the Inn completed improvements to the Wilmington Avenue entrance, expanded the lobby and common areas and changed the parking pattern.

If the project is approved as requested, Moore said the Inn is planning to start construction in January 2015 and finish in March 2016.

Board of adjustment to hear three cases

In addition to the Avenue Inn case, the Rehoboth Beach board of adjustment will hear a continuance of a variance request for 23 Pennsylvania Ave.

Owner Steve Otell, on behalf of the Helen Otell Trust, is seeking to install a new retaining wall on the east property line.

The board will hear a variance request to allow an addition to an existing house at 401 S. Boardwalk be built up to the 16-foot aggregate side yard setback. Billy Moss, on behalf of owners Pickwick Oceanfront LLC, is requesting the variance.