Three mixed-use structures proposed for Rehoboth Avenue

Commercial on the bottom, two-story apartment above on former Clear Space properties
October 27, 2023

Almost a year after Clear Space Theatre Company sold three properties for a combined price of $2.8 million, three separate mixed-use structures have been proposed for 413, 415 and 417 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth Beach.

On the agenda for the Friday, Nov. 3 planning commission meeting are three separate site-plan concept reviews for the three Rehoboth Avenue properties.

All three properties are owned under different limited liability companies, but all three share the same mailing address of 402 Rehoboth Ave., which is the address for the office of local Realtor Dave McCarthy.

McCarthy declined to comment on the proposed plans, instead pointing in the direction of local land-use attorney Vince Robertson for more information.

Robertson confirmed they are three separate buildings on three separate lots, each with a single residential unit above a retail unit. He said he believes each one is compliant with city code in all respects including parking, total square footage, setbacks and height. 

“The buildings are reminiscent of some of the older buildings on the first block of Rehoboth Avenue and Wilmington Avenue, where shops or restaurants are located at ground level with living space above,” said Robertson in an email Oct. 26. “This is exactly the type of mixed-use building that the city is looking for and we think it will really help improve the west end of Rehoboth Avenue near the entrance to the city.”

According to plans submitted to the city, each lot has parking for two vehicles, a sidewalk between the backs of the structures and the residential properties to the north, and decks and sunrooms on the second floors.

As proposed, the properties’ use will be significantly different from what Clear Space had proposed for the property.

Clear Space, currently located on Baltimore Avenue, purchased the three 50-by-100-foot parcels for $2.1 million in late 2019. Over the course of four years, beginning in fall 2018, the theater proposed two different plans for a new home. The first plan was a 25,600-square-foot building that included a 300-seat theater, a classroom and rehearsal hall, larger dressing rooms and an improved backstage area. A 28-space parking garage and cafe were also included. The second plan was a two-building option – a 256-seat traditional theater and a rehearsal theater. Ultimately, both plans met strong public opposition, including a lawsuit, and Clear Space announced in July 2022 that it was abandoning its plans. It sold the properties in October 2022. 

The lots are now cleared, but contained two houses when Clear Space purchased them. The two-story house at 415 Rehoboth Ave. was demolished in May 2020. A historic beach bungalow at 413 Rehoboth Ave. was moved across town and renovated.

The three lots are in the city’s C-1 commercial district, which allows for full lot coverage. However, because the lots have R-2 general residential lots to the north, city code requires a 5-foot setback in the rear yard. Code also calls for a screen to shield or obscure the lot from those in the abutting residential district.

Other agenda items

Under old business for the Nov. 4 meeting, the commission is expected to continue to discuss the potential legal abandonment of the eastern terminus of Baltimore Avenue. The city needs about 60 feet of the far eastern edge of Baltimore Avenue to build a new beach patrol station. State code requires the planning commission to issue a report, which includes the positives and negatives of the proposed abandonment.

The commission is also scheduled to continue to talk about possible revisions to city code related to subdivision of land and site-plan review. This review comes at the request of the commissioners.


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