By LISA MONTI
It’s been in the works – and in rumors – for a few years but this month a much anticipated hotel at the prime corner of Main Street and Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis took a solid first step toward more detailed designs and eventual construction.
On July 10, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to give conceptual approval to the preliminary drawings for the four-story, 60-room North Beach Hotel. From there, the plans goes to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then the City Council.
The property developer, Cure Land Co., has hired Trapolin/Peer Architects, a respected New Orleans firm, to design the hotel. Architects Paula Peer and Gabriel Virdure presented the preliminary drawings to the HPC at the Monday meeting.
Principal architect Peter Trapolin said later that the project will be more of a destination hotel, “a cut above” other hotels, with high-level amenities but with competitive rates.
The ground floor will house a small lobby, restaurant and retail space and some parking. The second floor will have a pool deck. All of the upper rooms will have balconies overhanging the sidewalk. Valet parking will be available at a lot on Beach Boulevard across the railroad tracks.
The location is perhaps its best asset. “We had some advisers in the hospitality industry we talked to in planning and they said it’s the perfect spot, with the marina and all the nightlife,” Trapolin said.
Architect Edward Wikoff led the Historic Preservation Commission meeting July 10 in Chairman Kevin Fitzpatrick’s absence. Wikoff said the commission provides feedback in the early stages of designing and developing larger projects to ensure that all requirements will be met without hindering the project.
“In this initial review we’re looking at things like the site plan and exterior elevations giving feedback on proportion, scale and material selection,” Wikoff said.
The popular beachfront area is already populated with restaurants, bars and shops, and Wikoff said the hotel will increase foot traffic with amenities such as outdoor dining areas below the balconies.
And more development could follow the hotel. “Other property owners who have commercial property are waiting to see what happens there,” he said.
Wikoff said the architects will provide the HPC with details such as the designs for the column, balconies and hand rails as they are developed. “We expect to see additional detail in future reviews as progress is made on the design,” he said.
If everything goes well, ground will be broken in early November and construction will take about a year.