PROVINCETOWN — A 31-room hotel, restaurant and bar with outdoor dining, and four condominiums are in the plans to redevelop the Old Reliable Fish House property on the waterfront at 229R Commercial St.
A preliminary design for the project was presented by developer Christine Barker to the planning and zoning boards on Oct. 10. The plans are by no means final, said Regina Binder, acting as a consultant, and there has been no formal application for a building permit yet. The general concept for redeveloping the condemned restaurant and dilapidated pier was being offered for feedback, she said.
Barker, whose business operates in New York and Cape Cod, did not return calls for comment.
The design, as it stands now, is three stories high, though it “presents as two and a half,” Barker told the boards.
The property is in a flood zone, so the structure must be lifted to comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations. Though FEMA requires that it be lifted 13 feet above sea level, the developer has proposed a height of 19 feet. It will include a reconstructed pier, said architect Jeffry Burchard of Machado Silvetti, the firm that designed the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
The former Old Reliable is just 10 feet from the mean high-water line. To comply with FEMA rules, it would be moved back to a distance of 25 feet from mean high water.
People on the beach would be able to walk beneath the pier pilings, Burchard said. And pedestrians would be able to use the proposed driveway and entrance to the hotel to get to the waterfront.
The height of the proposed building may change, said Binder. On Oct. 10 Burchard said the eves of the roof would be 44 feet above sea level. As a comparison, he said, the eves of Whaler’s Wharf, a little to the east at 237 Commercial St., are 39 feet above sea level.
“Traditional” cedar singles and black window frames would be used, said the architect.
“We plan to stay within the historic vernacular of P’town.”
He compared the design to that of the Crown & Anchor. “There is a strong desire to architecturally make it look like more than one building,” Burchard said.
The Old Reliable property includes pier rights to the now destroyed Benjamin Lancy’s Wharf, built around 1850, one of dozens of wharves that once dominated Provincetown’s waterfront. Chef Howard Mitcham made the Old Reliable the place to eat in the 1970s. Through the 1990s the waterfront restaurant offered cozy dining far out on the beach, though the building itself had fallen into disrepair.
The restaurant closed years ago. In 2015 the building was condemned following a fire.
The building, on the west side of Marine Specialties, contains 7,056 square feet and is valued at just over $1 million. The redeveloped structure would not be “perceptible from Commercial Street,” Burchard said.
The next meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for Nov. 21 before the zoning board of appeals, said Binder.
Issues that will need to be decided by regulators include density and height. Zoning rules allow a maximum of 20 hotel rooms on lot.
“We would be asking for relief to the density schedule because the hotel rooms would be an economic engine given that we’ve lost so many,” Barker said.
A third story is proposed in the plan and could be granted by special permit under the town’s inclusionary bylaw. That allows a developer to get zoning relief if affordable housing is part of the project. Barker said she proposes to buy an affordable deed-restricted unit somewhere off-site in Provincetown.
As to the height, Burchard said he hopes the town measures the building by subtracting the 19-foot elevation, which would keep it closer to the town’s height limit for peaked roofs, which 33 feet.
Another detail to consider is the number of sewerage “gallons” the hotel, restaurant, and condos would require. Binder said the restaurant, though shuttered for many years, still retains its sewer allotment.
Gloria McPherson, the former town planner now acting as a consultant for the town in this case, said she needs to research that sewer allotment and if the bylaws allow gallons to be reserved for years.