Dewey Beach Enterprises agreement extended one month

Temporary use of proposed retail space as event space may become permanent in January
December 31, 2021

Dewey Beach commissioners tabled a vote to accept a fifth amendment to the mutual agreement and release between Dewey Beach Enterprises and the town which would delete DBE’s retail space requirement.

Based on discussion in the executive session of commissioners’ Dec. 17 meeting, Mayor Bill Stevens said counsel advised commissioners to postpone the vote to work out details, so a vote will occur at the Jan. 21 meeting.

The fifth amendment to the MAR would delete the requirement for DBE to have 4,000 to 8,000 square feet of retail space originally planned on the first floor overlooking the Baywalk. 

In the meantime, commissioners voted to allow Town Manager Bill Zolper to extend the temporary use of space in the structure as event space from its deadline of Dec. 27 to Jan. 27, 2022, as a sign of good faith, Stevens said.

Speaking on behalf of DBE, attorney Vince Robertson said he hoped to close out the MAR, which he said was inartfully drafted about 10 years ago, with a fifth and final amendment negating the retail requirement.

DBE currently pays $37,500 annually to the town, Robertson said, and would be willing to increase the annual payment by $5,000 to $42,500, with the hope that the additional funds be used toward beautification efforts.

The original MAR cited a spa, gym, restaurant or other public attractions as possible retail establishments, Robertson said, but the area is not a commercially viable location. 

In the Ruddertowne complex, which preceded DBE’s residences, hotel, restaurant and event center, retail ventures were unsuccessful, Robertson said, with high turnover and boarded storefronts.

DBE has tried to rent out the retail space, with no luck, Robertson said, perhaps due to the rental rates reflective of the high-end project.

“You can’t have that juxtaposition with low-rent T-shirt shops, candy shops,” Robertson said. “Things like that won’t work because they can’t pay the rent, and there’s not enough foot traffic in that location.”

Rather than remain a vacant storefront, Robertson said, the space would be better used as breakout rooms for the conference center.

The town would only be losing the $273 annual retail license fee, and the hotel contributes much more than that to the local economy, Robertson said.

An agenda for commissioners’ Jan. 21 meeting has not yet been set.

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