Those who love the small village ambiance of the Old Marco Inn, and especially the quaint specialty shops that abut that area, may be disappointed when they hear of the changes being proposed for that historic area.
At a meeting with neighbors earlier in December, the owners of that property proposed a major renovation to the area with the addition of a four-story structure over parking for a 41-room hotel wing. That proposal will take the place of the 20,000 feet of rental stores and art galleries in the Old Marco development off Palm Street. In addition to those changes, the Leebee Fish Restaurant and the small breakfast/lunch cafe would be removed to make room for the new hotel/condo wing.
As part of the plan, they will also remove all of the auxiliary buildings that have been added over the years to the Old Marco Inn. They will be jacking up the original structure and turning it around 180 degrees to facilitate the use of the original entryway which existed when the inn was constructed in 1883.
A new pool and deck area will be constructed in addition to a new free-standing restaurant that seats 75 with an outside dinning area and bar that will take the place of Café De Marco. Another elevated bar will be located by the new pool area which will be built over parking below.
An entirely new kitchen will be built on the ground level with a new restaurant which will seat 285 patrons with its own bar. An additional 2680 square feet of meeting area will also be provided.
Some residents who attended the December informational meeting were concerned about traffic, parking and the impact to the neighborhood. Others from Villa De Marco East were concerned how the newly proposed hotel/condo wing would impact their quality of life and the historic nature of the site.
Robert Mulhere, the professional planner representing the Allard Family who owns the property, explained the buildings were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and needed major repairs. He also explained that the project necessitated the need for the redevelopment to make it financially feasible.
The popular Café DeMarco Restaurant would not be impacted by this proposal, as it still has four years remaining on its lease with the property owners.
Some attending the meeting referred to the Ad Hoc Parking Solutions Committee and their recommendations regarding on-street parking that had been discussed for Palm Street and Edington Place, questioning the impact that could have on the small/quiet neighborhood.
The review of the developers’ plans had been scheduled for Friday, January 4 before the Planning Board, and it still is scheduled for that time. The Planning Board meets in council chambers starting at 9 AM to hear the developers’ requests and take residents’ input on the matter.