Note: The print version of this story included an incorrect address for the former Steve's Pier property. It was located at 33 Bayville Ave.
Big changes may be coming to Bayville. That is, if the village board of trustees approves a new project for the former Steve’s Pier property on Bayville Avenue. Plans to replace the blighted property with an event center and resort branded as part of the Wyndham hotel chain were unveiled on Monday. The estimated cost of the project is $20 million.
Investor D’Wayne Prieto, chief executive of Ward Capital Management LLC, and architect Gregory Sharp, of Gregory Sharp Architect PC Case Development Inc., shared their vision with more than 100 residents at a village board meeting. The majority of the attendees appeared to support the project.
Pietro said it had been in the works for the past two years, with an initial plan to convert the Tides Motel Inn, also on Bayville Ave., into a luxury hotel. Its appearance, and that of the event center, would be similar, to present a consistent architectural feel, he said. Both buildings will be built at the same time under Wyndham’s luxury brand, TRYP, to serve as a location for weddings and corporate events.
“We look at them as bookends,” Prieto said. “With 268 parking spaces together, we can address any events happening at either location.”
33 Bayville Ave.
Once a beachside landmark, Steve’s Pier, at 33 Bayville Ave., was torn down in 2009. The former developer, Craig Kirsch, and architect Greg Andrea presented plans in 2015 for the construction of a seaside inn on the property, which was unpopular with some residents. The plan was supported by others, however, who aligned themselves with the prior administration, led by former Mayor Paul Rupp, which was divided in its support for the inn. But constrution progressed no further than the foundation.
Rupp chose not to run for re-election last June, and the win by De Natale and other members of his party — who campaigned promising to quash the plan for an inn — has been interpreted as a message sent by residents that they do not want it.
The new plans
Pietro and Sharp are planning to construct a three-story building on the existing foundation at the former Steve’s Pier property, which would include an event center, restaurant, spa and 13 hotel rooms.
A resident voiced concern over the potential height of the building, referencing the large mound of dirt that is on the property now. Sharp said the dirt would be leveled out and the building would be 20 feet tall.
“I have designed the event center to enhance this very unique location that sits on the water,” Sharp explained. “I want the building to look as if it is set on some piers and to have a water-like feel, as opposed to sitting on a stone base.”
The first level will include a spa, and the second, the special event suites. A rooftop restaurant will also be included for “open air dining and celebrations,” said Prieto, adding that patrons will also enjoy amazing sunset views.
The catering hall and bar will be on the lower level, as well as an indoor pool with doors that open up to the outside. There will also be outdoor seating there.
The rear deck will overlook the Sound, with public access to the pier and a deck by way of a ramp on the left side of the building. The public will also be able to enjoy the pier by entering on the right side of the building.
“This lops off an entire floor from the previous project,” Prieto said, referencing the rejected seaside inn.
The Tides, at 2 Bayville Ave., will become a 65-room beach club and resort. Plans for it have already been approved.
Residents ask for clarity
What about the parking, residents asked. Prieto said that the former Steve’s Pier property would accommodate valet parking for 162 cars, with a lot across the street. Cars would enter from Bayville Ave., he said, which prompted a request from a resident for a traffic light, which Prieto said he would consider.
Steve’s Pier always had problems with its cesspools, said one resident, adding that the stench was horrific. Reminding Prieto that Bayville doesn’t have sewers, he asked how the issue would be resolved. Prieto said his engineers were looking into the potential problem but didn’t have any additional information to share.
Fearing that the project may take longer than expected, one resident asked if a penalty clause could be added to the agreement. He suggested that the contractor be charged 10 percent of the value of the property if the project is not completed as scheduled. The money should be nonrefundable and given to the village, he added. Mayor Bob De Natale said the suggestion would be considered.
A few residents asked what would happen if the hotel was unable to meet its predicted robust business. “The project has been approved by Wyndham to fly their brand and the reservation system alone will take care of this property and provide for others,” Prieto said. “We will be booked.”
The projects, he said, will benefit the other catering facilities in Bayville, as well as the other businesses.
One resident wanted to know how the project was better than the last, prompting Deputy Mayor David Wright to say, “It’s simple. It’s not a hotel.”
There will be a more specific use for the project, explained Bob Nigro, a trustee. “This is the same size as the original plan but they can’t rent rooms here,” he said. The rooms at the events center would be used if there were not enough rooms at the new hotel where the Tides once was, to accommodate event guests. “There is a much more limited use and it’s a smaller property.”
De Natale reminded residents that the evening was not a public hearing and that a final decision has not been made yet, but he added that he supports the project.
“This will enhance the entire west end of the village and at the end of the day will bring life to the center and ease side too,” he said. “These rental spaces will be more desirable 12 months a year. It’s time to do something. There needs to be a suitable ending to this saga.”