Stonington commission supports hotel, restaurant planned for Mystic Seaport

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Mystic — The Stonington Economic Development Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to support plans by Mystic Seaport Museum to demolish its Latitude 41 restaurant and construct a three-story building with a restaurant and boutique hotel closer to the Mystic River.

The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the site plan, and coastal management approvals needed for the $12 million project, on March 3 at 7 p.m. at the former Pawcatuck Middle School.

The project calls for a 26-room, 41.5-foot hotel and a 160-seat restaurant with banquet space that would accommodate 250 seats, as well as a guest cottage. Plans also call for a pool and outdoor patio with seating overlooking the river and an existing dock.

The hotel/restaurant would be built by the Greenwich Hospitality Group, whose principal, Charles Mallory, developed the Stonington Commons project in Stonington Borough. It would be called the Delamar Hotel.

Plans call for the demolition and construction to begin in 2021 with an opening in the spring of 2022. Latitude 41’s lease runs through the end of this year. The new hotel/restaurant would be open year-round, unlike Latitude 41.

Seaport Chief Financial Officer David Patten told the EDC members that the project would double the current $68,00 in annual taxes the museum pays on the property.

“Greenwich Hospitality Group really knows what it’s doing,” said Patten, who told the commission he had visited some of the company’s other boutique hotels around the country. “They are really top shelf.”

He said a hotel is something the museum has been looking to add to its campus. He added that when boats dock at the museum’s marina, sometimes boaters want to stay in a hotel.

While there is no estimate yet on the number of employees there would be in the new building, Patten said it would employ more people than Latitude 41.

Chad Frost, the landscape architect for the project, told the commission that 27 rooms with 70% occupancy would generate 10,347 annual visitors and the restaurant would serve 40,000 meals.

Plans show access to the site via a shared driveway from a parking lot that would serve the adjacent Mystic River Boathouse Park, which remains in the planning stages. There would be 15 short-term parking spots along a circle in the front of the hotel, with the rest of the parking across Route 27 in the large museum lot.

Frost also said the first floor of the new hotel/restaurant would be 2 feet above flood elevation, compared to the current situation in which Latitude 41’s basement and restaurant both lie in the flood plain. He said the new building's elevation also would meet the 2-foot-above flood elevation that will be required by the state and would accommodate a 20-inch rise in sea level predicted for the area by 2050.

Because of the moratorium on new sewer hookups in Mystic, the hotel/restaurant would not be able to open until the town completes a project that would send sewage from the overburdened Mystic treatment plant to the underused borough plant. The remainder of the funding for that work is proposed in the 2020-21 budget, which takes effect July 1.

The Groton Planning Commission has submitted a letter to the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission, stating it is concerned about the view of the hotel from the Groton side of the river and asked for it to be redesigned to look more like the front side.

Last summer, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection expressed a number of concerns involving placing residential units in flood zones, intensification of use and preserving water-dependent uses. DEEP suggested the hotel be located on another section of the property not prone to flooding.

Former Planning and Zoning Commission member Ben Tamsky pointed out these concerns to the EDC on Wednesday and urged members to recommend improved public access to the water in the letter of support for the project it is sending to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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