Airport hotel seeks waiver to build nearly three times taller than zoning regulations

A proposed Crowne Plaza hotel for the MLI campus requests a 65-foot height variance from the county. (Courtesy of ILM Airport Hotel Partners)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY – A hotel proposed to transform the campus of Wilmington International Airport calls for a variation in height. The county’s technical review committee will review the plans on Wednesday before the application goes to the adjustment board next week.

A six-story Crowne Plaza hotel is in the works for Airport Boulevard, near the main terminal. ILM Airport Hotel Partners – a New York-based LLC connected to AC Hotel Developers – is constructing a 95-foot, 18,570-square-foot building. However, the maximum height in the commercial area of ​​the airport is 35 feet, which is about the height of a standard telephone survey.

READ MORE: New York developers to invest $40 million in upscale hotel on ILM campus

ILM Airport Hotel Partners will invest $40 million to build the 150-room luxury hotel, which will include a restaurant and 5,000 square feet of event space. Developers Andrew and Chip Weiss announced last month that they would bring the Crowne Plaza brand to Wilmington, the first of its kind in the region.

The airport authority on April 6 approved a 35-year ground lease for 4.69 acres of its campus. The proposed development is expected to create 125 permanent jobs in the area.

The request states without the variation in height, “the construction of the hotel as designed and planned cannot be carried out”. He also claims that it is not economically feasible to build a hotel within the 35 foot height standard; Indeed, 80% of the leased site will be covered by parking spaces.

To meet the height requirement and retain its current amenities, developers would need to construct a much wider building. This, in turn, would require them to rent a much larger amount of space for parking as well.

“A smaller building to maintain the same sublet area and the subsequent reduction in the number of hotel rooms would also make the hotel economically unfeasible and defeat the purpose of bringing a hotel to ILM” , reports the application.

According to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance, the Airport Commercial District is for commercial and industrial purposes, providing distribution and operations compatible with airport facilities. He says height restrictions are critical near the airfield because the obstruction affects air travel, including visibility during takeoff and landing. Any permitted deviation from the guidelines may require developers to install and maintain specific lighting and markings.

The hotel developers’ waiver request indicates that the site of the proposed structure is safely located away from flight paths and corridors.

The county also recently changed its ordinance to provide height for hotels up to 100 feet in the I-1 (light industrial) and B-2 (large business) districts.

The hotel project still needs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure aviation and public safety.

CMJW Architects captured the Weisses’ vision of a unique airport hotel, to include a rooftop bar and rows of glass windows designed to look like ribbons. The building will feature rounded edges with a metal exterior.

A public hearing will take place at the next adjustment board meeting on May 24.


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