PROVINCETOWN — A narrow strip of land that extends from Commercial Street southward to the harbor could, in the not-too-distant future, boast two new hotels with a total of 51 rooms, 13 residential condominiums, two restaurants with bars, some beneath-the-building parking, and a 264-foot-long pier.
A first look at Christine Barker’s proposal for 227-229 Commercial St., properties she purchased for $4.7 million last summer, reveals her intent to expand on her already-approved plans for the abutting Old Reliable Fish House site, where she will construct a mixed-use building with 31 hotel rooms and four condos, a restaurant, bar, and meeting space, some parking, and the pier.
Barker will need to take the new proposal through its own permitting process beginning with an April 5 public hearing before the historic district commission, which is required because the existing buildings at 227-229 Commercial date back to 1900.
The plans for the more recently acquired 229 Commercial St. property include the addition of 18 to 20 more hotel units, nine more residential condos, another restaurant with a bar and a separate lounge area, and parking beneath a three-story building.
The “Little Red” building at 227 Commercial St., where an Essentials store is currently located, will be renovated to house the Provincetown Bookshop, bought in September 2021 by Barbara Clarke, an investor in Barker’s venture, and now operating at 229 Commercial St. Plans call for the future iteration of the bookstore to open to a glass-enclosed conservatory behind the building where a shed now stands.
The front building at 229, with its classical style pediment, was originally the engine room of the Colonial Cold Storage Company. It is structurally sound, according to engineers who have reviewed the plan, and will remain, likely renovated to become a restaurant and bar, according to the architect’s application. The plan calls for making a few adjustments, including the addition of a clay tile roof and ADA accessibility.
Back in 1900, a massive five-story icehouse stood behind the cold-storage company’s engine room. The building standing on that footprint now houses a warehouse, a long-closed restaurant, and nine empty apartments.
No longer structurally sound, that building is targeted for demolition, to be replaced with a building similar in design to the original icehouse. As with the building planned for the Old Reliable Fish House site, however, it will stand taller. That’s because both buildings must be elevated to meet FEMA flood standards, with the first floor sitting on a platform 19 feet above sea level.
The plan calls for separating the front and rear sections of 229 Commercial, leaving a two-inch gap between them. While the rear will sit on a platform, the front will remain at its current street level, as will 227.
An alley that allows public access to the harbor from Commercial Street will get an overhaul.
In his submission to the historic district commission on Barker’s behalf, architect Jeffry Burchard, a principal at Boston-based Machado Silvetti, said the project “will reconnect visitors and residents to Provincetown’s history as a maritime community.
“As the industrial revolution came to Provincetown and with it larger and larger buildings for storing fish, ice-making and shipping operations, the scale of the town began to transform along the waterfront,” Burchard wrote. Between these massive industrial buildings ran passageways used to move goods and equipment between the water and Commercial Street.
“This project, in conjunction with the project at 227R, seeks to literally restore the collective memory of this older land-use pattern,” Burchard wrote. Currently, the ruins of the Old Reliable Fish House stand at 227R. That restored memory will, he continued, “enrich our community as it reminds us of our industrial and maritime past.”
Barker’s approved plan for the Old Reliable property remains stalled in state Land Court, the subject of an appeal focused on the project’s scale by abutter Patrick Patrick, owner of Marine Specialties at 235 Commercial St.