SEASIDE — A proposed hotel is taking some Seaside residents by surprise and could box in two neighboring property owners. The Planning Commission could grant variances at a July 19 meeting to owner Antoine Simmons for his proposed 48-room Pearl of Seaside hotel at Avenue A and Beach Drive. Variances requested at a meeting last week sought additional height, side-yard reductions and changes in setbacks.
Simmons is CEO of Haystack Lodgings, a property management company that owns and operates four boutique inns in Cannon Beach and Seaside. He is described by his publicist, Kasey Kalchert, as “one of the leading experts in online hotel marketing.” Inn at the Prom and the Gilbert Inn, which would neighbor the Pearl of Seaside, are both part of Haystack Lodging’s properties.
Two homes are either enclosed by the property or adjacent to it, including a duplex at 25 Avenue A and a home at 341 Beach Drive owned by Avrel Nudelman.
The duplex owned by Susan and Dan Calef was built in 1912 as a companion property to a larger home built by photographer William Montag. That property and the neighboring Renton Houses were scorched in a fire started by children playing with matches before being subsequently demolished, Susan Calef said.
The lot has been vacant since about 2000.
The new hotel would limit her to “a little peek of a view,” she said, and plans for the rear of the property have not been presented. “My brother said, ‘You like the front and side of the elephant, but what’s the back of it look like?’”
“We have been here long enough that we think of the larger buildings to our south as anomalies in a neighborhood of smaller buildings,” Dan Calef said in an email. “We think of the condominium across from us as an enormous eyesore that ruins the small beach town feel of Seaside.”
Nudelman, a 60-year Beach Drive resident, said the proposed building would eliminate his natural light and “change the enjoyment of my property.”
In a letter to the Planning Commission, condominium owner Maureen Huntley said the variances would “greatly reduce the number of parking spaces required for a building with 50 planned rental units.”
“It’s too big a project for that piece of land,” Seaside resident Debbie Brooks said. “Does the Planning Commission even look at the future of Seaside and what is the occupancy year-round for these hotels that don’t have people in them all year long? Is there really a need for this big monstrosity?”
By building within 8 feet of the Prom and within 3 feet of the southern property line, the proposed development would “greatly reduce visibility of buildings to the proposed hotel’s south,” especially the Promenade Condominiums, Huntley said. “We strongly oppose all of these planned variances and therefore request that all of the proposed variances be denied,” she said.
Planning Director Kevin Cupples said the height variance would likely be granted because of the building’s sunken grade. Maximum height of a building for the resort-residential zone is 45 feet, he said. Because the property is below grade, they sought a height variance of 7 feet bringing the structure to 52 feet at the penthouse level, he said.
The side yard setback requests 3-foot setbacks on the north and south property lines on the eastern portion of the building.
A hotel in that zone is a permitted use, he added.
Cupples said the Planning Commission will finalize their decision at the July 19 commission meeting. Residents have the option to appeal to the City Council.
“We have been approached, in the past, about whether we would sell our property,” Dan Calef said. “We simply don’t want to sell our family house. We don’t want to own a unit in a condominium or part interest in a hotel. It is a very small piece of property and the fair value is probably well below the amount we would have to pay for another house that close to the beach.”
At the June Planning Commission meeting, Simmons told commissioners the hotel was “a work in progress” and, “at best,” they won’t begin building until October 2017.