Surf and Gables applications approved

By Historic District Commission
Thu, 05/16/2019 - 5:00pm

The Historic District Commission granted unanimous approvals at a special meeting Monday night to the developer of the Surf Hotel and Gables Inn properties, which are part of the new Block Island Beach House development. Lark Hotels purchased the historic properties on Dodge Street and is going through the approval process for renovating the two properties.

The HDC granted unanimous (4-0) final approval to the developer for plans to renovate windows and doors for the Surf Hotel’s outbuilding, or cottage, a part of the property that was constructed around 1940. The approval requires the developer to replace all of the property’s windows in the near future. Mike Ballard and Dennis Riordan were absent from the meeting.

The renovated out building will have a new sliding barn door on one side beside some French doors, and sliding doors with an interior guardrail on another side to prevent people from falling from the building. The out building is located on the north side of the hotel’s property across from the kitchen.

Architects Glenn Gardiner and Mike Abbott, from Newport-based Northeast Collaborative Architects, proposed screening the ground level crawl space under the building with pressure treated lattice. The commission was not in favor of screening the space with lattice. 

“I think lattice is just going to fall apart,” said commission member Mark Vaillancourt, who suggested that the developers leave the space open to the elements.

Rich Cooper, a developer for Lark Hotels, who has been spearheading the project, said, “The reason we planned to screen it with lattice was that we heard people hang out there late at night and do nefarious things. So we wanted to prevent that from happening.” After some back and forth discussion, the developers agreed not to use lattice on that part of the building.

Commission member Arlene Tunney asked the developers about the use of the building. Cooper said it would be used as “a private dining room,” and available for rent.

“It looks a lot nicer,” said Tunney, referring to renovation plans for the building.

Gables Inn property

As for the Gables Inn property, the $1 million project that the developer is calling The Grove, the architects presented the commission with a three-dimensional model of the property.

HDC Chair Bill Penn requested the model at its March 26 meeting, so the commission could see how the project fit into the landscape of the neighborhood.

After discussing the project’s details, the commission granted unanimous preliminary approval for siting and massing of the project. Penn made the motion, which was seconded by Tunney.

The project will involve refurbishing the Gables Inn, installing a pool with hardwood decking, creating two duplex rental units, a one-unit dwelling in an existing barn, as well as a single cottage, and staff housing. 

The three-dimensional model was placed in the center of the room for the meeting. The architects stood beside the model, pointing to different parts of the property while describing their renovation plans.

Vice Chair Martha Ball told them it was one of the better three-dimensional models the commission has seen. In response, Abbott said, “It was made using a three-dimensional printer from a computer.”

Vaillancourt said the “whole community is aware of the project,” and the model helps people see what it will look like. The model is available for viewing at the New Shoreham Town Hall.

The commission noted that the proposed buildings on the property are in close proximity to a neighboring property.

Stephanie Mallick, speaking on behalf of her family, which owns the neighboring property, home to Block Island Blue Pottery, said, “We want to make sure you maintain the fence that borders the property.”

Cooper told Mallick that the developer plans on replacing the old fence that serves as the property’s boundary. The developer noted that the fence will be maintained.

Penn told The Times that “The next step is for the developer to come back to the commission with drawings showing all of the exterior architectural details. The timing of the submission is up to them.”

In other news from the meeting, the commission granted unanimous approval to Maret and Tad Asaro to install a pervious cobblestone driveway at their High Street property to accommodate parking for three vehicles, as well as a small retaining wall to prevent vehicles from driving into the backyard.

The next HDC meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 20 at 7 p.m.