WILMINGTON — The developer of the Galleria mixed-use project has withdrawn a Special Use Permit application for a seven-story hotel, saying he plans to rework the hotel’s location to address the concerns of a neighboring homeowners association.
A high-end hotel has long been discussed as part of the major mixed-use project on the former Galleria mall property, located on Wrightsville Avenue between Eastwood and Military Cutoff roads. In September, State Street Companies, along with President and CEO Jeff Kentner, submitted plans showing the location of a proposed hotel on the site of the former ABC store; in December, State Street submitted a Special Use Permit (SUP) to exceed the 55-foot height limit of the property’s current urban mixed-use zoning.
Since then, several residents of neighboring developments have emailed city council to voice concerns — in particular, residents of the MacCumber Terrace neighborhood which sits across from proposed hotel location, on the other side of Wrightsville Avenue. Because of the quasi-judicial rigor of an SUP permit process, council members are not allowed to consider any kind of outside information before ruling on an application; appropriately, council members have been redirecting comments to city staff and City Attorney John Joye.
On complainant, in particular, Diane Zaryki, president of the MacCumber Terrace HOA, emailed Mayor Bill Saffo and council on January 6; Zaryki wrote that it the proposed hotel was “not in harmony” with the Wrightsville Sound Small Area Plan and that she believed she would “suffer special damages” to her property if the SUP was approved.
On January 16, Kentner emailed Zaryki, saying he would consider a ‘feasibility study,’ looking at moving the proposed hotel location to the eastern edge of the property, about 1,000 feet further away from MacCumber Terrace. Kentner noted that this would require ‘wholesale changes’ to the site plan and the withdrawal of the current SUP application. A new application would have to follow, as well as a further community meeting and, ultimately, a hearing before Wilmington City Council.
In exchange for considering a relocation, Kentner asked for written public support for the SUP.
“Prior to pursuing the feasibility study, and as mentioned this morning, we would require assurances from the MacCumber Terrace HOA that, if it was determined that moving the hotel were determined to be feasible, then the MacCumber Terrace HOA would agree to publicly endorse in writing the revised Special Use Permit application,” Kentner wrote, adding that if the HOA chose to support he plan, State Street could “prepare a draft of a letter that sets forth our expectations with respect o the public support we would seek in exchange for honoring your request.”
Zaryki did not respond to a request for comment on whether or not the MacCumber HOA would support the project.
Kentner confirmed that State Street had withdrawn the SUP application in an effort to ‘accommodate the neighbors,’ but noted nothing had been finalized yet.
“The folks at MacCumber Terrance asked us to consider moving the hotel and, in the spirit of being good neighbors, we agreed to evaluate the feasibility of relocating It. Our engineers and land planners are completing their analysis and it appears that moving it to the east of the roundabout (closer to the new ABC store) could work. We are still evaluating this and nothing definitive has been concluded yet,” Kentner said.
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