Fayetteville Planning tells developer to start over with hotel idea

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Steve Gulas. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Steve Gulas. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Previous 4-story hotel plan had been approved, but developer wants to add 5th floor — 

A request to the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission by developer Steve Gulas proposing significant new revisions to a downtown hotel previously approved in August 2018 came as a discussion item in December. Commissioners told Gulas he would have to start the approval process over from scratch given the changes he is requesting.

The main differences in the version of the hotel previously approved in August 2018 and the current proposal were the number of stories and the changes to the look of the exterior, known as elevations.

Gulas is now proposing a 5-story hotel as opposed to the 4-story building approved last year, though he noted that the overall height would remain essentially the same. Per ordinance, a 5-story building at the site is permitted.

Gulas said the hotel would be branded as a SpringHill Suites, operated by Marriott International. Geared toward the upper-moderate lodging segment of the hospitality industry, the chain consists of all-suite hotels, according to Marriot.

Gulas told commissioners he wanted to get their take on the new proposal, with the expectation that it would be favorable. But that was not the case, primarily in terms of the number of stories and the elevations.

“This is different (from what was previously approved),” said Commission Chairman Sarah Murphy, adding that the prior special exception limited the building to four floors. “I can’t say this meets what we approved.”

Commissioner Brett Nolan agreed, also adding that he saw merit in the new idea.

“This is not a bad project, but this is completely different from what we approved,” Nolan said.

Commissioner Ken Collins was joined by others on the commission who said the new proposal was not applicable with the prior approval, recommending that Gulas start from scratch with a new proposal and take it through the entire approval process.

In terms of the proposal change that would add another story to the building, Nolan and Commissioner Toby Spencer indicated they were open to considering it, with Commissioner Joe Clark recommending that Gulas start over and “see what happens” when a new project in its entirety goes before the board.