ROCKPORT — It has been a three-month construction pause, but April 1, the Rockport Code Enforcement Officer issued once again a permit to 20 Central Street LLC, the company that is in the process of building a 20-room hotel in Rockport Village.
“We are excited about getting going again on the project and specifically getting the front façade, sidewalk and street finished up so they can be used normally again this summer,” said Tyler Smith, a principal of 20 Central Street LLC. “The small amount of exterior work (brick, granite and slate) roof will begin immediately as well as framing of interior walls. We have about a year of interior work left to complete and still are planning on opening in Spring of 2023.”
Stuart Smith, also a principal of 20 Central LLC, had hoped to be back working at the site a month ago, but the town was methodical in interpreting judicial decisions following the ongoing court actions brought by Rockport residents against the hotel plans and construction.
Tyler Smith said work will slowly start back up over the next couple of weeks once schedules are worked out with subcontractors whose work was terminated on January 4.
A previous building permit issued by Rockport had been vacated by Knox County Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee, pending another review by the Rockport Planning Board of hotel parking issues, points raised about the number of allowed rooms in the hotel, design aesthetics, and the directive for a traffic study.
The Planning Board finished its review in late January, and reaffirmed it decision that the new Rockport Harbor Hotel plans were compliant with municipal architectural standards and meets parking requirements.
In March, the requisite traffic study, as produced by engineers with the private company Gorrill Palmer, had raised concerns about the safety of the offsite parking lot system, and advised 20 Central LLC to ask the Maine Dept. of Transportation for an entrance permit.
The offsite satellite parking lot at 310 Commercial Street for the hotel is a part of the former Hoboken Gardens on Route 1, near the intersection of Pascal Avenue.
Gorrill Palmer had also suggested 20 Central provide a design of the parking area and access to Route 1 that meets town standards, should the DOT not require a permit.
But 20 Central Street LLC pursued a permit from the DOT, which was subsequently granted, said Rockport’s Code Enforcement Officer Scott Bickford, April 4.
In the April 1 building permit, Bickford wrote that he determined the parking facilities are adequate for the proposed uses, “and will not cause undue burdens on traffic or parking in the vicinity and will cause safety concerns because: parking for the project is comprised of dedicated parking spaces and MDOT permits referenced in the Gorrill Palmer traffic and parking study have been obtained by the applicant.”
Bickford issued a new building permit with the condition that a certificate of occupancy will not be issued for the hotel until any remaining requirements, if any, concerning use and landscaping for satellite parking at 310 Commercial Street (Hoboken) are addressed.
Tyler Smith said: “The lawsuit argued that the hotel was not visually harmonious with the surrounding buildings. After three months of an extensive re-review of the building, the application material and the ordinance requirements the Planning Board once again unanimously found that the building’s architecture is visually harmonious and complements the other buildings in downtown Rockport. We hope the Friends of Rockport have seen that their arguments have been fairly heard and assessed by the court and town and will ultimately be true friends and stop spending the town’s (taxpayers) money.”