A vacation spot named “Stay” is in the works for the corner lot on India and West Olive in Middletown. The property owner (Indio Live LP/Mark Mandell) of the 0.35-acre site located at 2801 India has applied for a site development permit. The plan is to build a three-story hotel with subterranean parking totaling 39,294 square feet. The city posted notice of the proposed project onsite on December 21, 2016.
The current tenant of the lot is a Budget Truck Rental spot. An employee onsite on April 7 said they have been there “going on 13 years.” This lines up with when the current owner purchased the property in 2004. “Some people were out recently checking the retaining wall along the back. I’ve heard that some people are upset about their views and something about the wall.” He wasn’t sure when they’ll have to move. “My boss is being tight-lipped on when that will be.” According to city records, the business license for this location expires on December 31, 2017.
Before Budget moved in, he said he thought the lot used to be a gas station. He said the tanks might still be in the ground, but he wasn’t completely sure.
According to Lucas O’Connor from District 3 Councilmember Chris Ward’s office, only one person has asked his office for more information about the project.
Terry has rental property directly above the lot on Columbia Street (parallel to India). “I support the project based on the design and how we were able to iron out issues at subcommittee meetings. It’s going to be a very nice development with several smaller structures with breezeways.” He juxtaposed this project against one he is not so happy about. “The nine-story monstrosity trying to be pushed through on Robinson Street in Uptown. They didn't do a good job of contacting neighbors, nor have they met any of the Uptown planning group change requests. Basically carpetbaggers coming to our home and putting in the maximum square footage gulag for the max profit.”
Another resident that lives on Columbia said about the hotel project, “As long as they don’t ruin my view, I’m fine with it. It could be worse. It seems like an upgrade for the neighborhood. At least the developer is working with us and not trying to steamroll through whatever.”
Leo Wilson, chair of the Uptown Planners, said the project was approved unanimously by the local planning group at the March subcommittee meeting and approved on consent at the April 4 planners meeting, with conditions. “There is always a concern about the exterior — if it’s a light color, it will fade. To get around that, if they use finer materials like acrylic, it will keep the finish. We generally recommend for any project that has white siding to use materials that will stay over the long-term.” Wilson said the project applicant has agreed to this condition.
The materials presented by the developer to the planning group in March included CIP (cast-in-place) concrete, acrylic stucco, Corten steel panels, copper paneling, and blackened steel/aluminum paneling.
The other condition has to do with vegetation. Wilson said, “It’s early in the design so there is no vegetation yet, we just put in that condition to make sure it’s addressed.”
As far as concerns by neighboring residents at the March planning meeting, Wilson said, “We had one person in the back that was against the project because they were losing their view and such. The project is low, and in the end he supported it. Another guy was complaining that they’ll have a 30-foot retaining wall. One guy, he has his view protected, but if he goes further down into his yard, then he loses his view.”
The current zoning for this site is CC-3-4. Commercial community zones are generally meant to provide pedestrian-friendly streets with commercial entities. CC-3-4 also allows for residential uses.
“Someone could put something in there that could be ugly. The applicant went out of their way to work with us. One nice thing is it’s not one monolithic building, it’s nine buildings with plazas,” said Wilson.
Wilson explained that the hotel will have 24 rooms and is more of a vacation accommodation for people that know someone in town versus a typical hotel. “It’s more like your aunt comes to town and instead of staying in your spare room, they stay at Stay.”
He pointed out that it’s the community's gateway coming off the I-5. “The truck place isn’t exactly the best way to say welcome.”
According to the city’s December permit application, the project is currently in its fourth cycle review.
The project architect, Philip Cudaback, with Lahaina Architects, told me he would have to check with the designer, Dominique Houriet from [oo-d-a] Studio, to see where the project was at before answering any questions. He did say that he is attached to the project specifically because Houriet is the designer.