City Planning Commission votes unanimously for hotel’s renovation into affordable housing

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Quarterpath Inn owner Doug Pons stands in front of the motel in December. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)
Quarterpath Inn owner Doug Pons stands in front of the motel in December. (Sarah Fearing/WYDaily)

After two decades of declining visitation, a Williamsburg motel is one step closer to a new lease on life, while also filling a need for affordable housing in the community.

The Williamsburg Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to recommend City Council approve a proposed renovation of the Quarterpath Inn into affordable housing.

Quarterpath Inn owner and City Councilman Doug Pons submitted an application in March, requesting renovating 68 Quarterpath motel rooms into 39 studio, 12 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments. The hotel is located on York Street in Williamsburg.

The proposed renovation would be the second phase of an affordable housing project at the motel. The first phase, called the “Flats of Williamsburg,” was completed in March 2016.

“I think the change of use fulfills the need,” Pons said after the meeting Wednesday.

“I concur, I think that this is well thought-out and a nice, adaptive reuse,” Commission Chair Demetrios Florakis said Wednesday. “I like that the city was cautious in approving 50 units… It’s worked out well, now converting the rest of those units makes sense.”

Pons has said the renovations not only rejuvenated the Quarterpath’s business, but provided affordable housing in an area driven by the service and hospitality industry.

According to 2014 data from the U.S. Census Bureau – the most recent data available – 20.1 percent of residents in Williamsburg are living in poverty, a substantially greater percentage than the U.S. poverty rate of 13.5 percent.

A site plan of the proposed renovations at the Quarterpath Inn, located on York Street in Williamsburg. (Courtesy WIlliamsburg Planning Commission)
A site plan of the proposed renovations at the Quarterpath Inn, located on York Street in Williamsburg. (Courtesy WIlliamsburg Planning Commission)

Williamsburg’s poverty rate is also almost double Virginia’s rate of at 11.5 percent of the population. The amount of resident college students with low incomes may slightly inflate Williamsburg’s poverty rate, but the rate is still undeniably higher than other localities in the state.

Rents at the new apartments are proposed to range from $695.00 to $1,125.00, depending on the unit, according to the Planning Commission application. The rent will include all utilities except electricity.

The average income of current residents at the Flats of Williamsburg is just under $28,000, said Vernon Geddy, an attorney representing Quarterpath Associates and Pons.

According to the application, “each apartment home offers ideal cooking facilities with an updated modern kitchen with full-size refrigerators, ranges, microwave ovens and a surprising amount of cabinet and countertop space.”

Planning Commission member Andrew Edwards called the first phase of the motel renovation, which converted 60 motel rooms in 47 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, a “very successful experiment.”

He added that the first phase of the project was a positive reuse of the property in the wake of a downturn in tourism in Williamsburg and Colonial Williamsburg.

Building the second phase of the project would require City Council to amend a zoning ordinance and rezone the Quarterpath Inn property, according to Planning Commission documents.

A photo of an apartment at the Quarterpath Inn taken in March 2016. (Courtesy Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)
A photo of an apartment at the Quarterpath Inn taken in March 2016. (WYDaily file photo)

Based on the first renovation at the Quarterpath Inn, Pons has estimated each apartment will cost about $20,000 to renovate. At 53 units, the renovation is expected to cost “well over a million dollars,” he said.

No community members spoke at the meeting, although a public hearing for the application was on the agenda.

“The mom and pop motel-style property is a building model, it seems, whose time has come and gone,” Geddy said.

The proposed project will be placed on the agenda of a future Williamsburg City Council meeting.

WYDaily archives were used in this story. 

Sarah Fearing may be reached at sarah.f@localvoicemedia.com.