The grassy lawn in front of the Cavalier hotel belongs to the city of Virginia Beach, and any changes to it must be approved in advance. That apparently was news to the owners of the hotel, who started building a catering pad at the top of the hill last month.
“If the Cavalier wants to do anything in that easement, they need to ask our consent,” said Mark Reed, historic resources planner for the city. “They started the work before they asked permission.”
In 2013, Virginia Beach provided multi-million dollar incentives to the hotel owners to help preserve the historical building as it underwent a major renovation.
Among the support: $2.37 million for a green space easement over the lawn and the entrance driveway, which also means those areas can never be developed. The easement area includes the lawn, steps, terraced hill and landscaping in the form of the word “CAVALIER.”
About a month ago, a concerned citizen notified the city that 4-foot-tall cinder block walls had been built at the top of the hill. Upon inspection, the city stopped the construction of the structure, which is in front of the hotel, on the north side.
Bruce Thompson, one of the hotel owners, said in a text that he was building the catering pad because servers wore out the grass at the top of the hill. He planned to install new artificial turf and the “pad” for the caterers’ equipment. He said he didn’t know why he needed the city’s permission.
About a third of the construction on the 17-by 21-foot pad was completed before the city issued a stop-work order and conducted a review.
Part of the review process was determining if the permanent patio would impact the hotel’s historic integrity. The Cavalier is a Virginia Landmark and is featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
The state decided that the proposed changes will not alter its status, Reed said.
“It’s off to the side,” said Reed. “It’s not going to have much visual impact.”
On Tuesday, Reed will recommend approving the work as long as it is inspected by the city and used only for catering purposes. That approval could be revoked if the owners try to build in the easement again without first getting approval, he said.
The walls will remain 4-feet-tall. As of Monday, the cinder block was covered with brick that matches the hotel. It’s unclear if the bricks were installed after the stop-work order was issued. The city is looking into it, Reed said. Awnings over the pad and landscaping around it are planned.
Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, email@example.com
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