By Kathryn G. Menu
Cape Advisors, the firm in contract to purchase the Baron’s Cove Inn on West Water Street, hopes to break ground on a renovation to update the aging hotel including the addition of a new restaurant some time this spring, eyeing an opening before Memorial Day 2014.
On Thursday night, February 14, the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) gave Cape Advisors its nod of approval, signing off on the design of the restaurant building.
Thursday night was not the first time the ARB was given a glimpse of the structure, which is a part of a full re-design of the Baron’s Cove Inn parcel initially proposed by property owners KBR two years ago. After earning initial approval to revamp the hotel and its rooms in early 2011, the company through Cape Advisors announced it would pursue a restaurant on the property. The first design for the restaurant, which will replace an existing motel office building, mimicked a historic Sag Harbor Whaling Captain’s House. It was an aesthetic the ARB encouraged architect Thomas Pedrazzi of Studio Pedrazzi, which has partnered with Stokes Architecture in the design of this project, to move away from.
The building, which is two-stories, will be 3,710 square feet, with a lobby, small store and bar with eight seats on the first floor and a 79-seat restaurant on the second floor.
“You felt we were going too Colonial, too boathouse, so what we did was try and incorporate the existing building, said Cape Advisors project manager Curtis Sachs, adding the new design aimed to take on more of a nautical, marina feel to it, rather than try to create a historic, Sag Harbor feel to the building.
ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown appreciated the change.
“The board felt it was trying too hard to be a historic structure attached to a structure that is what it is,” he said.
“We are happy with the direction this has taken,” he added.
Brown asked Sachs to review some of the concessions Cape Advisors offered the planning board during its environmental review of the project – which was completed and approved last year. Towards the end of the planning board’s review, neighbors began to protest the project in earnest. Increased traffic and noise, as well as whether or not the bar space should be considered a separate use as it was located on the first floor and away from the restaurant, were just some of the chief issues raised by neighbors and the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor.
Just next door to the Baron’s Cove Inn sits the West Water Street condominiums, which may be resurrected later this spring. Before that property was purchased for condominium development, it housed the infamous Rocco’s nightclub, a business that plagued neighboring residents with late light revelers, traffic, trash and loud music.
In response, Cape Advisors – which needed no variances for this project to move forward – agreed to a host of restrictions and agreed to have them placed on the deed, meaning if the property is purchased by another party they will have to adhere to the concessions.
Under those restrictions, Cape Advisors has agreed to have last call for any alcohol in the outdoor dining area on a proposed patio no later than 10 p.m., all outdoor background music will end at 9 p.m. nightly, last call at the restaurant’s bar will be no later than midnight and the hours of the restaurant bar will be tied to the hours of the dining room. However room service will still be permitted to sell alcohol.
Cape Advisors has also agreed to prohibit bottle service of liquor and will not allow cover charges or entry fees, which are common calling cards of nightclubs.
A proposed concession stand will not offer alcohol.
The pool will also be restricted to hotel guests and their guests and will be closed at 9 p.m. as will the outdoor concession area.
“We wanted to make it very clear we are not looking to do a Rocco’s and were willing to make voluntary concessions to ensure it would not become a nightclub,” said Sachs.
“Once bit, twice shy,” said Brown.
Sachs also walked the board through an extensive landscaping plan that will include privet hedge, at four feet, with a split rail fence behind it and hydrangeas and sea foam roses placed behind the fencing.
Private gardens are planned for the first floor rooms, he added, and the parking and tennis court repaired to bring the entire property up to the standard of the new rooms and restaurant.
Lighting is minimal, added Sachs, with small copper light fixtures, facing down, planned to highlight each room entry and number and lighting on three paths through the property. The parking lot will not be extensively lit, he said.
The ARB approved the plan, although asked for one window to be converted to a triangle rather than circular shape to fit in with the angled aesthetic throughout the rest of the property.
The next Sag Harbor ARB meeting will be held on Monday, February 25 at 5 p.m.