Park Avenue house to be demolished

August 12, 2010

The Rehoboth Beach Planning Commission will rule Friday, Aug. 13, whether to approve the partitioning of property at 73 Park Ave.

In addition, a demolition permit has been issued for the large yellow house on the property, a house some say has important historic value to Rehoboth.

In a letter to the Cape Gazette, Rehoboth resident Ann Walker Gaffney said, “This old house is a treasure of The Pines area. During recent years, regional architecture and spacious lots have been lost because cottages that were originally built on two or three lots have been razed to accommodate more and newer houses.”

In her letter, Gaffney said the house – which is the result of two or three houses being joined together – dates back to the 19th century and was once named the Winter Inn, a popular restaurant and inn. The rear-yard patio is surrounded by large, classical columns, which were once part of the Grier house at Lake and Surf avenues. The columns were salvaged after the Storm of ’62 destroyed the Grier house.

Long-time Rehoboth residents have stories about going to New Year’s Eve parties at the old Winter Inn. The event was black tie, with a menu of shucked oysters and a side of roast beef with vegetables and biscuits. Just before midnight, black-eyed peas were served to bring good luck in the New Year.

Gaffney said she would like to see the house saved from demolition, possibly by being moved to a privately owned lot within the city.

Chase Brockstedt, attorney for the owners, Vardell Realty Investments, said the house has not been deemed historic by any historical society or organization. The partitioning application was approved in a preliminary review by the planning commission, and the partitioning meets all the requirements of the city code, he said.

Brockstedt said he hopes the partitioning will be approved, although he has heard opposition to the plan.

If it so chooses, the planning commission can impose conditions on the application’s approval.

While he does not know the exact history of the property, Brockstedt said his client has attempted to reach out to the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society, Rehoboth Art League and other organizations to see whether they would accept the structure.

He said he did not know the results of those discussions.

Brockstedt said the house has not been kept up over the years and is in very poor condition. He said he was not sure when the house was last lived in, but it would take a substantial amount of money to renovate it.

Demolition could not take place until after Sept. 15 – demolition is prohibited in Rehoboth from May 15 to Sept. 15.

Building Inspector Terri Sullivan said to get a demolition permit, the owner needs to submit an application for demolition, a copy of a survey, a tree protection plan, the demolition contract and a bond of $200,000 or 20 percent of the cost of demolition.

The planning commission will hear the partitioning request at 6 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13, in the city commissioners’ room.