WILDWOOD – The zoning board Monday gave its unanimous approval for this city’s fifth high-rise “condotel.”
Two 25-story towers will be added to the city’s changing skyline, according to plans by Riviera Holding Company LLC. The building will occupy two separate lots located at Ocean, Spencer, and Spicer avenues.
Developer Bart Oates told the zoning board that the two buildings can “stand alone, but they would create a better facility if they were combined.”
“It is designed to be a first class condominium complex that can fulfill the needs of the convention center,” said Oates.
Architect William Salerno testified that the building would contain a 374 rooms, with 117 designated as hotel rooms.
Condominium owners will be able to place their units in a hotel rental pool, added Oates.
“Of course owners can invite friends and family to stay at their properties, but they won’t be able to individually rent their properties to generate a source of revenue. Rentals will only be handled through the hotel rental pool,” he said.
Attorney Frank Corrado, representing the developer, outlined several amenities, which included a spa, a health club, a covered pool, and a bar and restaurant that would be available to hotel guests.
Retail spaces, open to the general public, were also incorporated into the design.
Oates said that the condotel would generate an increase in economic activity as well as bring a good source of jobs in the city.
Several members of the New Jersey Carpenters Local 173 said that while it would provide many good jobs for union members, other tradesmen also would benefit if the building was approved.
“It is a major plus for the neighborhood,” said union spokesmen Andrew Mulanowsky.
Lester Katsanis, owner of the Quebec and Calypso motels, voiced his concern that this tall new neighbor would block the sun and prevent his customers from viewing the ocean or boardwalk.
“This is just a 10-story parking garage,” said Katsanis as he gestured to an artist’s rending of the proposal. “Despite the ornaments, my guests will be sleeping next to a 10-story garage, with all the noise and carbon monoxide.”
Katsanis, who had been negotiating the sale of his property with the developer, told the board that the current design “stuffs a high rise on to postage size lots.”
“I’m not against high rise construction and I want us all to move forward, but I think we have to do it in a reasonable fashion,” he said. “You all should be able to make money, but not at the expense of everyone else.”
Resident Tony Totah agreed with Katsanis and said that the building was being was being “shoe horned” into a lot that was too small.
“If you have the resources to build a building like this, you should have the resources to build it correctly,” he said.
Katsanis also questioned why the building was designed to adhere to a land-use ordinance that has not been approved by the city.
The ordinance, introduced by city commissioners Feb. 24, would ease zoning requirements such as Floor Area Ratio (FAR), setbacks, and allowable height. The new requirement contains far less restrictive guidelines and would be much easier for plans to be approved.
The proposed new ordinance would change the FAR from six to 10, require 10-footsetbacks on the side and rear, and allow developers to encroach on public sidewalks with canopies and entryways.
Salerno said that it would have been “completely impractical” to design the building under the current ordinance.
“The project would’ve come out looking like a wedding cake,” he said.
The application required variance for FAR, setbacks, and a waiver for driveway width. Board members Steve Lerario, Dan Fleming, Elaine Billiris, Dennis Krause, Todd Kenninger, and William Mitchell voted unanimously to grant the variances and approve the site plan.
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