Warwick hotel-retail complex recommended for refusal
In-principle plans to build a new hotel and retail development overlooking South Shore in Warwick have been recommended for refusal.
The plans, submitted late last year, proposed the creation of a 56-unit residential hotel along with a retail outlet in a plot of land immediately east of the Bermudiana Beach Resort.
While the applicant argued the development would be an asset for the island’s tourism sector, a planning officer said in a report that the Department of Planning was not able to support all aspects of the proposal.
The report writer said the most significant issue was the retail component, which was not compatible with the tourism zoning of the lot or a 2007 special development order established for the Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences project.
“It should be noted that, although the department supports the use of the condominium hotel as well as the proposed density of units, the aspects of siting and height cannot be supported at this juncture,” the report said.
“These two matters require further study, which is beyond the scope of this in-principle application. Both the department and the Architectural Advisory Panel are against permitting the four-storey building at the existing grade level on the eastern portion of the application site.
“Given the western portion has been excavated to a lower elevation, it is conceivable that the eastern portion could also be lowered. This would greatly lessen the visual impact of the hotel building.
“However, to determine the suitability of this excavation a visual impact assessment would have to accompany an application for final approval and a geological engineer would have to reconfirm the findings within the engineering report carried out by Lohse Geoconsulting in 2009, which stated that buildings should be setback 50 feet from the shore cliff provided the base of the cliff is protected from erosion.”
The application, submitted by OBM on behalf of George Grundmuellar, who is listed as the applicant, seeks in-principal approval for a large retail building in addition to a hotel and amenities.
The hotel itself would have a bar and dining area, along with a health club and four floors of guest accommodations including 28 three-bedroom units, 22 two-bedroom units and six single bedroom units.
Documents within the application state that the hotel and the retail development would have a “symbiotic relationship” and give guests at nearby hotels easy access to groceries.
However, the DAB report said the department was not persuaded that the two-storey retail building could be considered an accessory to the hotel.
“Essentially, the retail outlet is a large scale commercial use proposed on tourism zoned land, which is capable of functioning independently of the hotel,” the report said.
“Additionally, it should be noted that this form of development, specifically with respect to the scale of the retail outlet building, has not normally been accepted as compatible with tourism development in Bermuda.”
The report writer also noted that there were four grocery stores within a few kilometres of the property, as well as a gas station with a retail component next to the proposed hotel.
In the circumstances, the report writer urged the DAB to refuse in-principle approval for the project.
The six-acre property was once part of the Golden Hind resort, but has more recently been used as a location for processing Bermuda stone into sand.
In 2007, the Government granted a special development order for the site with the goal of creating the Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences, which would feature a nine-storey, 220-room hotel.
However in the subsequent years the plans were modified to a six-storey, 100-room hotel alongside 125 affordable homes.
A total of 78 affordable housing units were built on the western section of the site, but the Bermuda Housing Corporation decided against moving forward with the remaining 47 after only two of the first 78 were sold.
The Government later announced plans to turn the 78 units that had been built into a condominium hotel renamed the Bermudiana Beach Resort.