Finn’s gets go ahead from HDC on minor renovations

Fri, 09/02/2022 - 3:15pm
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The Historical District Commission’s meeting on Monday, August 29 gave a hint about some of the building projects that will be happening over the winter on Block Island.
The commission stopped just short of giving a final go-ahead to 54 Dodge Street Op. Co. LLC for its planned renovations and an addition to the Surfside building on Dodge Street across from the Red Bird liquor store.
Newport Collaborative Architect’s principal Glenn Gardiner was presenting what he thought would be the final plans, but members of the commission wanted more details about decking on the grounds between buildings.
Although the decking is shown on a landscape plan, and one of its purposes is to provide ADA access from the parking area, members of the commission questioned the location of the access path. Arlene Tunney, who was chairing the meeting said that access from the sidewalk was also needed. “People come with a wheelchair without driving, a lot,” stressing that there also needed to be ADA access to the building from the sidewalk. “The decking really bothers me. I don’t know what it’s going to look like or whether it will blend in with the Historic District.”
Gardiner said that the plans would need to be updated by the landscape architect and that they would come back next month with more detail. He also ran through some other items regarding materials to be used for roofs, trim, and windows.
Carolyn Collins, who owns the building next door that houses Persephone’s asked about the drainage for the two outdoor showers included in the plan. “It’s right next door to a food establishment,” she said.
Gardiner said he “would think it would go into the sewer,” and he would confirm that information for the meeting next month.
Tunney, who earlier had said the project had come a long way since the initial application, concluded that “Everyone thinks the building looks nice...it’s the decking.”
The final decision was tabled until the levels of the decking and how they interact are provided for review.
At the other end of town lies Finn’s Seafood Restaurant, which changed ownership earlier this summer and was not open for business this season. The new owner is TMG B.I. Realty and the application before the commission was for renovations that mainly include the replacement of several windows and the demolition of one exterior staircase and the relocation of others.
“The goal is to change a few of the stairways that were added at various times,” said architect Spencer Cordtsen McCombe of Cordtsen Design and Architecture in Middletown, Rhode Island. There were, he said “three ad hoc stairs.” One, he said, was on the property line and sits over the two exhaust hoods for Ernie’s, something the Fire Marshal, upon inspecting the building, was not happy with.
The stairway serves as egress for the apartment and residential rooms on the upper floor, and one of the windows on the back side facing the ferry parking lot would be swapped out for a door. The Fire Marshal also said he would like those windows to the third floor residential area to be “egressable.” The proposed windows will replicate the look of what’s there now, according to McCombe.
Tunney said that the problem with that type of casement window was that the wind on the island could cause the mechanisms on them to break.
But, that was the point. “These will be a little different than the residential version,” said McCombe, adding that they were meant to break off in the case of an emergency, and the mechanisms could simply be replaced.
Other window replacements will be on the ground level and stairs will be moved that go from grade level to the second floor and from the second to third floors outside. One of those is currently also over an exhaust hood.
The shift in the stairs would create “a long blank wall” where the fish market is located, commented Tunney.
“I’m sure that’s just an over-sight,” said commission member Bill Koch.
Tunney wanted the owners to move the exhaust hood to accommodate a window, which she thought would be good not only cosmetically, but for the benefit of the business.
“I disagree,” said commission member
Mark Vaillancourt. “Why do all that work for a window?”
Commission member Mike Ballard suggested that carved signage could break up the blank space nicely. “Signage would solve the problem,” he said.
“That’s what we want to do,” said McCombe.
After more questions and answers about replacement windows for the restaurant area, some of which are deep within the porch areas, Tunney called for a motion to
approve the massing.
McCombe though asked if they could get “a final,” as they want to start work soon.
“I would love to see it open next
spring,” said Vaillancourt.
“As far as this application,” said Koch, “I don’t have a problem.”
The motion to approve was passed unanimously.