New Hope gives Odette's plan enthusiastic reception
Original stone building to be restored as part of hotel
There was much applause from the audience and the dais at Tuesday night’s New Hope Borough Council meeting; first, for the formal adoption of an ordinance creating a Riverfront Cultural Overlay Zoning District, and then for the presentation of the proposed redevelopment of Odette’s restaurant.
The overlay district, which will facilitate further development of the Bucks County Playhouse, was a painstaking 18 months in the making. The Odette’s overhaul has taken slightly longer – as in seven years.
“I’m here to debunk the definition of insanity,” said Mike Amery, the man who has kept the Odette’s project alive all that while, through three iterations. “That is, to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Well, this time, I think we have it solved.”
It certainly seemed that way. The $20-million project, known as the River House at Odette’s, is the work of Gateway to New Hope LLC, a group of high-powered investors. It includes Ed Breen of Upper Makefield, former CEO and current non-executive chairman of the board of Tyco International, who rescued Tyco from scandal and financial ruin beginning in 2002.
The plan calls for a four-story facility built around Odette’s, which would be reconstructed from its original stone, timbers and flooring and raised three and a half feet above the 100-year flood plain.
It would include 31 hotel rooms, a restaurant, banquet facilities for 100 people, a rooftop bar and a below-grade parking facility.
Scott Kelley, who led the presentation, said many of the necessary permits and approvals already are in hand because of the previous two attempts at redevelopment and the rest will be in place by this fall. He said the new Odette’s could open in the fall of 2015.
The design borrows from the red-brick mills that have dotted the banks of the Delaware River. The facility would be slightly taller than the Waterworks, the former mills converted to dwellings and shorter than Waterview, the adjacent luxury condominiums.
The plan is supported by Secretary Ellen Ferretti of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and state Sen. Charles McIlhinney.
Gateway to New Hope includes Kelley, a New Hope resident who partnered with Amery seven years ago in an attempt that faltered when the financial crisis hit. Kelley has held senior management positions with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and BNP Paribas.
The group also comprises Thomas Lynch, who lives in Newtown, and John Sprandino of Philadelphia. Sprandino is part of the group that built The Reeds at Stone Harbor in New Jersey, a project that mirrors some of the characteristics of Odette’s: a historic property in a strategic spot with ecologically sensitive waterside location.
Kelley said the site would contain 60 parking spaces, 18 of them beneath the building, and additional parking will be available via a shuttle to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. Miles Arnott, executive director, said the preserve’s parking lot is available and could be improved and “greened” with money from an agreement with Odette’s.
Several council members and several residents took the microphone to congratulate the Gateway group on their plan, and no one spoke against it.
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