Rehoboth Beach code prohibits the demolition of structures over 750 square feet May 15 to Sept. 15. However, the company redeveloping the old Sandcastle Motel will demolish a good chunk of the building in the coming weeks, and it’s left some citizens and city commissioners questioning the need for the special treatment.
The work is expressly prohibited, said Commissioner Susan Gay, during a commissioner meeting June 17.
“People work around this all the time. I don’t understand why they got a special dispensation,” said Gay.
Located on the corner of Rehoboth Avenue and North Second Street, the Sandcastle Motel was purchased by Newport, Del.,-based construction company Harvey Hanna in November for $13.2 million. The company began a $5 million renovation earlier this year. The company has yet to reveal what the new hotel will be when work is completed, but they’ve built a number of Hyatt-related projects, including one in Dewey Beach and more recently one on Route 1 outside Lewes.
The topic wasn’t on the agenda for the meeting. Former commissioner and Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company life member Walter Brittingham brought up the issue during the citizen comment portion of the meeting. He said fire company members was informed of the pending demolition during a membership meeting earlier in the week.
Interim City Manager Evan Miller said it’s not the entire structure that’s going to be demolished, but a wall or component of the structure. He said the city is trying to accommodate the contractor’s schedule.
“Both the city and the contractor want the work done, so we’ve allowed them to do a portion of the demolition,” said Miller.
Commissioners Toni Sharp and Edward Chrzanowski also expressed concern about the city giving the project special privileges.
Sharp said she understands the city and the contractor want the work done, but as a commissioner, it makes it hard when others in town see special treatment and want some themselves.
Miller offered to go back to the contractor and tell them to stop working all summer.
Mayor Stan Mills cut the discussion short and asked his fellow commissioners if a special meeting was needed to challenge the staff’s decision.
“We know over the next few summers, every summer for the next five summers, we’re liable to have a project going,” said Mills.
Neither Sharp or Chrzanowski said they wanted to challenge the decision, but, said Chrzanowski, he also doesn’t want it to set a precedent.
Representatives from Harvey Hanna could not be reached for comment.
Demolition is expected to last for weeks
As part of the discussion, Miller laid out the demolition plan for the next few weeks.
Miller said the fence surrounding the motel will be expanded west toward the fire hall and farther into the sidewalk to accommodate the demolition and equipment. The remainder of the alleyway between the fire hall and the fencing will be coned off, but available for use in case of an emergency, he said.
Miller said for the week of June 20-24, working hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The fence will be returned to the existing position by noon, Friday, June 24.
The following week, June 27-July 1, Miller said, demolition work will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, with the fence returning to the existing position by noon, Thursday, June 30. No demo work will be permitted Friday, July 1 through Tuesday, July 5, he said.
Demolition work will resume Wednesday, July 6, and is expected to be completed by Friday, July 8, said Miller.
The eight fire department parking spaces in the alleyway will be relocated to the main city hall parking lot behind the fire hall, said Miller. The city will invoice the construction company for occupying those spaces after demolition is over, he said.