Developer Withdraws Plan for Hotel

By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI 

Developer Patrick Fasano abruptly abandoned his plans to rehabilitate the former site of the Hotel Powhatan, located on Third Avenue in the Waterfront Redevelopment Area of Asbury Park.

At the Board of Adjustment meeting this week Fredric P. Lavinthal representing his client, Master Redevelopers iStar which owns most of the property in the waterfront area, said he had been notified earlier in the day that Fasano had withdrawn his appeal of a zoning board decision. Fasano had planned to rehabilitate and upgrade the building near the waterfront and open it again as a hotel. But the zoning board had ruled the use was abandoned and Fasano was appealing that decision.

Clearly upset Lavinthal asked the board to withdraw the application with prejudice meaning Fasano would not be able to submit a re-appeal of the application.

Board Attorney Jack Serpico advised the board that he did not believe it would be legal for them to accept the withdrawal with prejudice.

“If the applicant re-appeals I will deal with it at that time,” he said.

Serpico read a brief letter from Charles Liebling, Fasano’s attorney, simply stating that his client had decided to withdraw his appeal.

Fasano and his attorney attended a Board of Adjustment meeting in May to appeal a decision by the zoning officer that the existing use of the building as a hotel had been abandoned by its former owner, Robert Sorge, who operated the 26-room building as Abunda Life Church of Body Mind Spirit.

The Hotel Powhatan on Third Avenue in Asbury Park was built in 1911.

The building was constructed in 1911 as a hotel. Sorge purchased the property in the 1960s.

Master Redevelopers iStar maintains that the use as a hotel was abandoned by Sorge and could not now be reinstated.

Fasano, who purchased the property in October 2016, said at the time the building had the appearance of a functioning hotel with a lobby, front desk and 26 rooms, each with a private bathroom.

At the Sept. 25 zoning board meeting Planner Eileen Banyra testified that the building’s use as a hotel was not abandoned because its basic structure did not change.

Banyra said at the time that no one would mistake the building for a restaurant or a medical building.

The application was carried to the Oct. 9 meeting when Lavinthal was supposed to cross examine Banyra before the application was withdrawn.

In other business the board briefly listened to the architect for Developer  Joseph Marano of Advanced Development, who applied to build a 22 unit condominium on two lots at 300 and 302 First Ave. after demolishing a rooming house on one of the lots.

The applicant pledged to include 27 parking spaces on the site, which is less than the 33 required in the parking ordinance.

Board members were mostly in agreement that the project was too big for the property and the neighborhood.

The plans call for the building to reach the lot line with no setbacks.

The bulk of the building, along with the reduced parking spaces and increased traffic at the site left the board feeling “overwhelmed” by the project, said Board President Chris Avallone.

Other board members echoed his concerns.

The applicant, realizing the board was not in favor of his proposal, agreed to reconsider the project.

The board said despite the fact that there is a rooming house, single family homes and an apartment building in the neighborhood, the mood of the city has changed and quality of life issues are now at the forefront of the board’s approval process.

Board Member Russell Lewis cited light, air, parking, traffic and storm water management as issues the board now considers.

He said the fact that there is an apartment building in the neighborhood is an example of “bad urban planning” by previous city officials.

The application was carried without further notice to the Jan. 22 board meeting.

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