Baltimore Avenue hotel back on Rehoboth Beach radar

Owner: New version has larger footprint and more rooms, but is code compliant
January 21, 2023

Plans for a new 55-room hotel on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach have been submitted to the city.

Submission of the plans was revealed during a planning commission meeting Jan. 13, when it was mentioned in passing by commissioners multiple times. A few days later, city officials confirmed the plans had been submitted, but declined to comment any further.

In an interview Jan. 18, property owner Gene Lankford confirmed a set of plans has been submitted to the city. He said it’s in the same basic location as the previously proposed Atlantic Crown, but this time around it includes 55 rooms, instead of 40 rooms.

The original hotel was slated for 17, 19 and 21 Baltimore Ave. The footprint now includes 23 Baltimore Ave. According to Sussex County records, under the name Lankford Properties LLC, Lankford purchased the additional lot for $2 million near the end of September.

Lankford, who also owns the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Breakers Hotel, said the new hotel also includes a restaurant and bar that has 65 seats. Besides being larger, Lankford said a design change includes setting the hotel back a bit so a garden between the hotel and street can be added for outdoor dining.

Lankford stopped pursuing the previous version of the hotel after a Delaware Superior Court judge ruled the city’s board of adjustment acted properly when it included the balconies of the hotel rooms facing Baltimore Avenue as part of gross floor area calculations.

This time around, Lankford said, he tasked the architect with starting over and following city code strictly. He said he doesn’t think any variances will be needed.

“We think it’s very complementary to the city’s plans for the new beach patrol building and streetscape project,” said Lankford.

The original hotel plan may not have been successful in court, but the application did lead to a change in the way the city calculates floor-to-area ratio. Previously, underground parking had been included in the calculation. However, city commissioners removed underground parking from the calculation after Lankford’s original hotel was granted a variance.

Lankford’s hotel is one of four that have been proposed within the city limits in the past few years. There are two planned for the corners of Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk, while another is proposed for the intersection of Rehoboth Avenue and State Road. Even with the other hotels, Lankford said he thinks there are plenty of guests coming to the city to fill the rooms. People would rather be staying in town than out on the highway, he said.

Looking forward, Lankford said he’s not positive when the hotel will begin the public review process, but he’s hoping to have it approved by September. The goal is to open by May 2025, he said.

“It’s possible if we don’t hit any glitches,” said Lankford. “There’s always going to be some neighbors with issues, but we’re very optimistic.”


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